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Cargill is investing approximately $36 million (Canadian) in a waste-to-energy project at its High River, Alberta, beef processing facility.
A portion of the funds, approximately $10 million, will be provided by the government of Canada as part of its initiative to help meat processors reduce their environmental footprint. This public-private collaboration for creating energy from waste that otherwise would be destined for a landfill is the first of its type in North America and the largest single waste-to-energy project Cargill has undertaken on the continent.
"Using existing technology, we will install specialized equipment that will make our High River beef processing facility the most sustainable and environmentally friendly beef processing facility in the world," said John Keating, president of Cargill Beef.
Once it is in operation, the new system is expected to eliminate 21,000 metric tons of fossil fuel emissions annually, in addition to mitigating the facility's electric energy requirements by producing 1.4 megawatts of power. Using organic waste that would otherwise go to landfills also reduces the load on those sites.
Combined with the facility's existing methane gas capture that prevents release of this greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, and its subsequent use as fuel for the plant, 75 percent to 80 percent of the facility's energy needs will come from renewable sources.
Cargill's High River beef processing facility employs approximately 2,000 people who harvest 4,000 beef cattle daily, representing $1 billion in annual cattle purchases and totaling one-third of the nation's processed beef volume. The facility is also ISO 14001 certified, meaning the plant has an Environmental Management System (EMS) focused on a systematic and measurable approach to improving its environmental impact.