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Natural Resources

Water is essential to producing safe food.

We aim to balance responsible water stewardship with protecting the quality and ensuring the safety of our products. The majority of Tyson Foods’ water consumption is associated with producing animal feed or raising animals. Comparatively, a smaller amount is used for production purposes at our facilities. Accordingly, to broaden our water stewardship efforts, we adhere to a water stewardship strategy informed by local watershed contexts. This strategy and subsequent contextual water targets were developed in partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI).

The water risk assessment helped us identify priority locations to set goals informed by the local watershed context. Because the majority of Tyson Foods’ water consumption is associated with producing animal feed or raising animals, very little of the water required for finished products is consumed at our facilities. To balance these priorities, we set contextual water targets at our facilities, recognizing that we have significant influence on local watersheds at our processing facilities. Contextual water targets are based upon each facility’s water withdrawal, exposure to high water stress and proximity to our supply chain. Our contextual water targets also connect to our land stewardship efforts, as one of the aspects of our definition of land stewardship is water quality and conservation.

Water Withdrawal1(Billion gallons)

Bar chart showing Tyson Foods' average yearly water withdrawal from 2018 through 2020

Water Withdrawal
by Source

  • Municipal 86%
  • Well 14%

Water Discharge
by Destination

  • Irrigation 12.3%
  • Publicly Owned
    Treatment Works 41.3%
  • Surface Water 46.3%

Alliance for Water Stewardship

Tyson Foods is a member of the Alliance for Water Stewardship, a global collaboration comprising businesses, NGOs and the public sector. Members contribute to the sustainability of local water resources through their adoption and promotion of a universal framework for the sustainable use of water — the International Water Stewardship Standard — that drives, recognizes and rewards good water stewardship performance. The standard is built around five steps as shown below.

Infographic showing the International Water Stewardship Standard's five steps
Alliance for Water Stewardship

Our Finney County, Kansas plant has been certified by the Alliance for Water Stewardship for making the following improvements:

  1. Worked with community members, businesses, and government agencies to save water for future generations.
  2. Reduced water usage in all areas of the plant to produce food products more sustainably.
  3. Met environmental regulations in managing wastewater, reusing it to grow crops.
  4. Reduced the use of water from the Ogallala Aquifer to sustain an important local water source.
  5. Prioritized the availability of clean water at the plant for drinking and washing

Wastewater Treatment

We use technology and reclamation systems to conserve and reuse wastewater in our direct operations. New interventions are introduced continuously to reduce the risk of pathogen contamination and keep our products safe, and we also work to mitigate the potential challenges that this creates for wastewater treatment. Our food safety and environmental teams work hand in hand to manage this issue.

Wastewater treatment not only conserves water but, in some locations, also allows the nutrients in the wastewater to be used to grow crops and reduces the need to purchase manufactured commercial fertilizer. Each year we reuse billion gallons of wastewater for crop irrigation which allows millions of pounds of nutrients to be collected and redistributed.

Our procedures are regulated by EPA programs, such as Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits that govern the release of water that may contain chemicals or other impurities. Water that is released meets EPA’s Effluent Guidelines Program requirements set by each of our permits. We report chemical data to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as required by the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program. Specific to wastewater operations, we report the amount of nitrate compounds along with other chemicals included in our wastewater, for the EPA’s annual TRI.

Water Security

Tyson Foods participates in the National Water Reuse Action Plan, which promotes an aggressive approach to ensuring reliable and secure water delivery. The actions that EPA and its partners align with in the Action Plan strengthen the sustainability, security and resilience of our nation’s water resources by creating new partnerships, providing accountability and promoting communication and transparency with an online platform.

1Water data is for production operations (plants, hides, tanneries, rendering) only. Our FY2018 water footprint includes data from our Tyson Foods U.S.-based operations only. Data for Tyson Foods U.S.-based operations, AdvancePierre Foods, Original Philly, Keystone Foods U.S.-based operations, American Proteins and Tecumseh Poultry are included in FY2019 and FY2020.

Water Withdrawal1(Billion gallons)

The International Water Stewardship Standard

  1. Gather & Understand: Data on shared water challenges
  2. Commit & Plan: Develop a water stewardship plan
  3. Implement: The site's water stewardship plan
  4. Evaluate: Performance against the plan
  5. Communicate & Disclose: The site's stewardship efforts

Implementation of the standard is intended to achieve five main outcomes for the site and its defined physical scope: