Beyond its use as fertilizer and biogas, are there more ways to recycle manure? Smithfield Foods thinks so. This week, the company announced it joined USDA, EPA and other environmental leaders as a participant in the Nutrient Recycling Challenge, a competition to develop affordable technologies that recycle nutrients from livestock manure.
For more than two decades, Smithfield has transformed anaerobically digested manure into a second useful life as fertilizer and biogas, but the company hopes to build on these efforts by identifying more effective and affordable solutions to recycling nutrients in order to build a more sustainable future.
“At Smithfield, we recognize that focusing on innovation is the key to achieving excellence across all our sustainability pillars—animal care, environment, employees, food safety and quality, and helping communities,” says Dennis Treacy, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer for Smithfield. “This competition provides an opportunity to join with others in the pork and dairy industries to further advance technologies and practices that recycle nutrients.”
Smithfield—the world’s largest pork processor whose brands include Smithfield, Gwaltney, Nathan’s Famous and Eckrich—says the goal of the competition is to identify ways of recovering valuable nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus to generate products that have environmental and economic benefits. The Nutrient Recycling Challenge is a four-phase competition. Beginning with an idea, innovators transform their concept into designs and working technologies that will be used in pilot projects on livestock farms. In Phase I, beginning later this month and ending in January 2016, entrants will outline their ideas for nutrient recovery technologies.