Smithfield Foods’ pork processing facility has been recognized by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality as a Rising Environmental Steward for its continuing commitment to exceeding compliance with environmental regulations and maintaining a high standard of environmental excellence.

"Smithfield has prioritized environmental stewardship and transparent reporting for more than two decades," says Stewart Leeth, chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods. "This recognition from NCDEQ reflects the strength of our environmental programs in North Carolina and our commitment to enhancing and protecting the state's natural resources above and beyond what is required by law."

NCDEQ's Environmental Stewardship Initiative recognizes and supports companies and facilities that go above and beyond to reduce their impact on the environment. The Rising Environmental Steward designation is for organizations that have a mature environmental management system and measurable environmental performance goals.

Smithfield's Tar Heel facility has been recognized as an environmental leader under the Environmental Stewardship Initiative for the past 21 years and became a Rising Steward in 2005. The facility's wastewater treatment system produces renewable natural gas that provides power to the processing plant and more than 2,000 local homes and businesses. Tar Heel's reuse and reclaimed water systems send approximately 1 million gallons of water per day back to the refrigeration system and outdoor washdown hoses to significantly decrease the facility's use of potable water.

Smithfield's Clinton, N.C., facility has been recognized for environmental performance under the program since 2004 and is also a Rising Environmental Steward. Smithfield's facility in Wilson, N.C., has been recognized since 2005 and has been named a Steward, NCDEQ's elite designation for organizations displaying a commitment to exemplary environmental performance beyond what is required by law.

Smithfield was the first U.S. agriculture livestock company to achieve ISO 14001 certification for its environmental management system, in 2001. The company was also the first in its industry to announce an absolute greenhouse gas emission-reduction goal and first to commit to becoming carbon negative in all U.S. company-owned operations by 2030.