2018 Sustainability Report

Material Resources

Reducing waste is good for our business and the environment.

Reducing Waste and Conserving Natural Resources

Waste reduction allows us to streamline costs and send as few materials to landfills as possible. Our environmental management experts are continuously exploring innovations in packaging and waste diversion to reduce operational waste output, increase our recycling footprint and reuse waste to add value to products or create new sources of energy.

We conduct regular plant surveys and waste stream evaluations to identify opportunities for improvement. We are currently establishing an enterprise-wide system to better understand our waste footprint and plan to set targets beyond year-over year improvements on waste reduction in FY2019. These new targets will define zero landfill for our company and a structure for reporting and accountability.

Waste Generation
FY2016 FY2017 FY2018
Waste Generated (million pounds) 2,804 2,980 3,775
Waste to Landfill (million pounds) 287 334 362
Waste Diverted from Landfill (million pounds) 2,517 2,646 3,340
Recycle & Beneficial Reuse* Rate 90% 89% 90%
Landfill Waste Intensity
(pounds landfilled to produce 100 pounds of finished product)
0.94 0.98 1.21
An employee smiles at work

IBP boxes being loaded

Our corrugated boxes are produced from 100 percent renewable material, contain 29.9 percent postconsumer recyclable packaging and are Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) program-certified.


Our packaging strategy aligns with the five “Rs” – Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Renew – and is guided by the recommended packaging metrics and definitions set forth by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and the Global Packaging Project. Without compromising quality or product protection, our packaging design process prioritizes increasing the use of recyclable and renewable materials, as well as minimizing packaging where possible. We stay abreast of innovations in packaging technology and ways to source renewable packaging materials.

The packaging innovation labs and pilot plants at our Discovery Centers in Springdale, Arkansas, and Downers Grove, Illinois, allow us to be very effective at implementing sustainable packaging solutions. The two facilities enable engineers to conduct extensive testing to optimize final package design and performance. In addition, we leverage the packaging testing capabilities of our strategic packaging suppliers to evaluate new and improved packaging materials and technologies.

In 2018, Tyson joined the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN) and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition® (SPC). AMPERIPEN is a leading North American packaging advisory group focused on providing public policymakers with factual packaging information and consequences prior to and during legislative enactments. The SPC is a membership-based collaborative that believes in the power of industry to make packaging more sustainable. Both organizations are focused on the entire supply chain and not just targeted segments.

By eliminating wasted product and inefficient packaging processes, we were able to save nearly $2 million in FY2018. We accomplished this through a redesign of our fresh poultry whole bird packaging bag. We had experienced difficulty in placing the bird in the packaging, occasionally causing the bag to break. This resulted in wasted product, wasted time, additional labor to repackage the birds, wasted money in broken bags and unsalable product. The transition was challenging since the new bag cost more and weighed slightly more. However, due to greater efficiencies and less waste, we were able to realize a net savings of nearly $2 million, eliminate approximately 1.7 million pounds of food waste and 1.8 million bags, increase productivity by 7 percent, and avoid printing plate change costs.

river clean up icon
Pitching in for a Sustainable Future

Earth Day Team Building

Team members around the country pitched in, picked up and dug deep for Earth Day 2018. From tree plantings to river cleanups, we showed our commitment to a more sustainable future for our communities, our company and the world. Projects we took on included:

• Planting trees and shrubs along a stormwater swale to capture sediment and prevent erosion due to rain at our New Holland Complex.

• Sponsoring Lancaster Farmland Trust’s annual Pedal to Preserve bike ride, which supports the Trust’s mission of preserving local farmland.

• Supplying gloves, trash bags and water, as well as team member volunteers, for an Arkansas River cleanup in Finney County.

• Hosting an event with The Nature Conservancy at our Corporate Auditorium to highlight what we’ve accomplished together on waterway conservation.

river clean up day volunteers

Food Waste Reduction

We are committed to seeking out opportunities to eliminate or minimize food waste in our direct operations and supply chain. At numerous touch points within our direct operations, we have established food waste diversion measures.

For example:

  • In our animal processing operations, there is virtually no waste and every part of the animal is used. Not only do we harvest the meat for use in our products, but we use the majority of animal byproducts to create saleable materials like animal feed, biofuels and fertilizer. We also repurpose byproducts for items such as cosmetics, leather, fertilizer and pharmaceutical ingredients.
  • During the packaging process, we optimize packaging to keep food fresh through its intended use-by date and use state-of-the-art food safety techniques that protect shelf life.
  • In our distribution centers, we optimize pallet load for the most efficient weight and cube utilization in a truck, and we use a world-class inventory and distribution system to keep our food safe and fresh.
  • At the point of sale, we offer our consumers portion-controlled options to reduce waste and label guidance on preparation, cooking, storage, sell-by and best-if-used-by dates.

In 2018, Tyson acquired the poultry rendering and blending assets of American Proteins, Inc. and AMPRO Products, Inc., including four plants in Georgia and Alabama and 13 blending facilities throughout the Southeast and Midwest. This additional capacity will allow us to recycle more animal products for feed, pet food and aquaculture.

Through our new venture capital fund, Tyson Ventures, and our Innovation Lab we are investing in companies and pilot projects that are innovating new ways to address food waste across our industry.

Rendering is a sustainable environmental practice resulting in high-value ingredient solutions and reduced landfill volumes.


We’ve been a member of LWG since 2008, collaborating with other brands, suppliers, retailers, NGOs and technical experts to advance sustainable business practices in the leather industry.

Using All Parts of the Animal after Processing

We process a range of “wet blue” and brine-cured cattle hides sourced in-house from our harvest operations. This supports our commitment to use all parts of the animal after processing with as little waste as possible.

The wet blue process is the first step in transforming raw hides and skins to viable tanned leather, using chromium salts, before they are dried, dyed or finished. Our customers buy wet blue to make a variety of products in leather, such as upholstery, shoes and handbags. This supports our commitment to use all parts of the animal after processing with as little waste as possible. We’re one of the largest wet blue tanners in the world.

“We’ve made significant strides in environmental and third-party certifications of our tanneries in Amarillo, Texas; Dakota City, Nebraska; Finney County, Kansas; and Joslin, Illinois” said Shane Miller, Senior Vice President & General Manager Beef Enterprise. The Leather Working Group (LWG) has separately audited each, and we’ve received the organization’s Gold Medal Award since 2008 in Amarillo, Texas; 2010 in Dakota City, Nebraska; 2011 in Garden City, Kansas; and 2018 in Joslin, Illinois. Our first tannery joined LWG in 2008 at the inception of the program, and now all of our customers require it.

The LWG auditing protocol requires us to meet a stringent set of environmental controls in our tanneries, including the evaluation of energy use, water use and effluent treatment. While it is primarily an environmental audit, certified tanneries are expected to demonstrate reputable practices in all areas of business. For instance, the latest version will evaluate worker and equipment safety in our tannery operations moving forward.

LWG is a multi-stakeholder group that works to advance traceability back to hide facilities for their 400+ members, which include leather manufacturers, suppliers and brands like Tyson Foods. The organization promotes sustainable and environmentally sound business practices and implements an environmental compliance and performance capabilities assessment of leather manufacturers. We’ve been a member of LWG since 2008, collaborating with other brands, suppliers, retailers, NGOs and technical experts to advance sustainable business practices in the leather industry. We’ve held a seat on the LWG board of the executive committee for three consecutive years.

Shane Miller Portrait
Sustainably Sourcing Leather, Together

Shane Miller,
Senior Vice President & General Manager Beef Enterprise

Helping Support Supply Chain Transparency

“PrimeAsia has built its business on a platform of transparency, environmental stewardship, sustainability and continuous measurable improvement. One of the critical measurements we rely on for our own business and for our supply chain is the Leather Working Group (LWG) audit criteria to determine best in class. Tyson, as a core supplier to PrimeAsia, has continued to demonstrate their commitment to the same values, and this commitment is recognized by their Gold LWG accreditation. PrimeAsia remains committed to doing business with a supply chain that shares our values, and we are honored to have Tyson as one of our core suppliers.”

Jon Clark CEO PrimeAsia Leather

“Tyson Fresh Meat and Hides & Tannery Group have been members of Leather Working Group Ltd (LWG) since 2008 and were among the first leather manufacturers to have their facilities audited. As an elected member of the Executive Committee of LWG for the last three years, Tyson’s input has helped steer the direction and work of the group, ensuring it continues to meet the needs of its members and the wider leather supply chain. Tyson’s commitment to leading and demonstrating environmental improvement is evident, and we hope to continue supporting Tyson in their efforts for environmental stewardship.”

Deborah Taylor, Manager, LWG

Leather Partner Companies
Footnotes & References

This footprint includes data from our U.S.-based operations. Information from our U.S.-based Cobb-Vantress, The Pork Group, hog buying stations, Tecumseh Poultry, American Proteins, Original Philly and Keystone Foods are not included in this footprint. FY2018 data includes AdvancePierre.

* Beneficial reuse can include activities such as composting, land application and digestion.