Feed Bites

Perdue's Partnership with GreenGasUSA is Making a Mark in the Field of Sustainability

Written by: Guest   |   April 27, 2023

Environmental footprint

By: Marisa Crowhurst, AFIA communications intern

At the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), we keep a close eye on different issues impacting the industry. Sustainability has been a hot topic lately, and one of our members, Perdue Farms, has been making big strides in the right direction. Drew Getty, Perdue’s vice president of environmental sustainability and government relations, joined me for an interview to discuss the company’s partnership with GreenGasUSA and their combined efforts to reduce carbon emissions. 

What Was Perdue Trying to Accomplish When They Partnered with GreenGasUSA?

Perdue established its sustainability goals in 2018, using a 2015 baseline around greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction, and effectively chose its Lewiston, N.C., plant as the first location to start this process. The company aimed to install equipment at this site to capture methane from the operation’s onsite wastewater treatment facility and convert it to renewable natural gas (RNG), which was completed last November. 

Producing Impressive Results So Far

Perdue’s emission reduction goal was set for a 30% reduction in GHG emissions, and through January, it had already reached a 24.9% reduction. Soon, they expect they will not only meet, but exceed their original goal. 

In a news release about the partnership, Perdue stated: 

“In the first two months of this project with Perdue, over 10,500 metric tons of CO2 were captured and converted to RNG. This is the GHG equivalent of eliminating 1,181,500 gallons of gasoline being consumed.”

How Does It Work? 

The Lewiston facility has two lagoons with about 45 million gallons of wastewater. Through that wastewater process, there’s what is called a “fat cap,” which builds over time on the lagoons. As the materials breakdown, it creates methane. Perdue partnered with GreenGasUSA to break down the “fat caps” by covering the lagoons with what Getty referenced as “giant tarps,” however he said, they actually feel more like hard plastic material and are weighted so that cattle can graze on them without issue. 

The covered lagoon captures the methane emitted and as it breaks down, the methane converts to CO2, and they can trap that and convert it into natural gas with the refinery equipment on site. Once it is refined and condensed into gas, GreenGas injects the gas into specially designed tractor trailers, which transport it to the nearest natural gas pipeline for use. From there, it is sold to “off-takers,” or people who want to buy the natural gas to support their operations. 

What Feedback Has Perdue Received from Customers, Community and Stakeholders So Far? 

This process not only captures methane, but it also traps odors that may come from the lagoons, which has greatly improved neighbor relations, according to Getty. He said the people are very excited about this project because it has led to such a big decrease in carbon emissions. 

“Infrastructure has played a big part in this; physical change that is good for the environment, you can see it, touch it and understand it,” Getty said.

Perdue is improving its environmental impact and improving wastewater operations, which is getting their customers and other stakeholders excited about what they’ve done for the environment at this facility and other facilities in the coming months. 

“Looking at it from a business perspective – we took a waste stream and turned it into a sustainable stream that generates value” Getty added. 

What Else Is Perdue Farms Doing in the Sustainability Space? 

A big initiative on the agribusiness side, Perdue is working with farmers and Bayer on a program to capture carbon in the soil. Farmers are incentivized and rewarded for practices that keep carbon in the ground, for example, through cover crops, strip or no-till practices. Perdue just launched a pilot project in the last year with a goal of signing up 10,000 acres and have since surpassed that goal, signing up 50,000 acres of farmland and are currently gathering data of how much carbon was sequestered and its impact on the environment. Getty said this is important work with farmers to help reduce carbon emissions. 

Perdue is also working on improving efficiency on the transportation side by using more rail and less trucks and using barges to transport by water to reduce the number of trucks on the road. This is an effort to drive down that carbon impact. 

As a vertically integrated company, Perdue controls their supply chain “seed-to-table” and is committed to transparency in the whole process. Getty said they know the farmer who raised the corn, which feed mill the corn goes to, which chickens eat the feed and so-on. 

How Can Others in the Animal Food Industry Get Started Reducing Their Environmental Impacts?

“The best way is to know what you’re good at and if it’s something that is not in your wheelhouse, find the right partners to work with that can help advance your efforts,” said Getty. “To help advance progress on our environmental sustainability efforts, we have to have strong partnerships with complementary expertise. It’s bigger than any one company. Thinking outside of the box and working with others to advance the progress is a good way to start.”

Getty added that the company is “never satisfied to sit on our laurels and do things the way it’s always been done,” reiterating that in its second century of business, Perdue’s commitment to continuous improvement has led to environmental, animal care, innovation, supply chain, etc., improvements.

This commitment to continuous improvement is something that many AFIA members would likely agree on and is one reason why we continue working hard to provide members with tools to help them along in their sustainability journeys.

Learn more about Perdue Farm’s partnership with GreenGasUSA by watching this video.

Does your company have a good sustainability story to tell? Let us know

Comments See our policy on comments

Post a Comment

Required Field