Tyson Foods said it plans to reduce the company’s direct water usage by 12% by the end of 2020 and will also work with its supply chain partners on further water sustainability goals. The plans were made public in the third release of Tyson’s 2015 sustainability report, which covers environmental stewardship.
“Water conservation has been an important area of focus for Tyson Foods for many years. Water is a precious, finite resource and we need to manage it responsibly from farm to finished product,” said Dr. Christine Daugherty, vice president of sustainable food production.
This spring, the company will begin installing new measuring and continuous monitoring equipment at its U.S. plant locations that enable personnel to better manage water use in real-time. The amount of water used per pound of finished product is a common metric in food production and Tyson Foods’ goal is to reduce the amount of water used to produce each pound by 12%, using 2015 as the baseline year.
“We’ve been testing the continuous monitoring approach at one of our poultry plants in Tennessee since February 2014,” said Leigh Ann Johnston, director of sustainability. “We discovered when managers had real-time insight into how water was being used they were quickly able to improve conservation by taking corrective action.”
During the pilot, the facility had a 9% reduction in water used. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this improvement would supply more than 360 families of four with water for one year.
The majority of water the company uses in its direct operations is treated and returned to the environment. Tyson Foods already uses technology and reclamation systems to conserve water, and usage is disclosed in its sustainability report. Beginning with calendar year 2016, Tyson Foods said it will also disclose to the 2016 CDP Water Questionnaire (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project).