Although the company has locations in 71 countries, the Hazleton plant became Cargill’s first one to take its operations 100 percent landfill-free after a three-year journey.
General Manager Aaron Humes said the process began when the local facility’s leadership team decided they wanted to do more for the environment. He said the company worked hard to become completely waste-free, including spending more than a year to find a way to recycle one piece of plastic. Every six months, Cargill would take the process one step further and Humes said his 640 employees played an integral part in the efforts.
“It’s a good journey that we’ve been on. The employees really pulled through. They understand this is great for their kids and great for the environment. I see a lot of good things coming out of it,” Humes said.
Cargill’s Hazleton plant produces more than 125 million pounds of beef, pork and ground meat products annually. The company partnered with three local businesses to help improve its already-existing recycling efforts. Concord began the recycling process and helped dispose of things like cardboard and wood pallets, Waste Management assisted in getting rid of the plastics, and Biros Septic & Drain Cleaning, Inc. hauled away the solid waste.
The unrecyclable plastic was used to produce energy, the food waste was turned into other products, and the oil was repurposed for use as a number of lubricants.
This initiative not only helped Cargill make history and improve the environment, but also saved the company money. Humes said his team started with small recycling of plastics, cardboard and wood and were officially verified landfill-free by public health and safety company NSF International in March. He said watching the employees work together to accomplish this goal showed the depth of the Hazleton facility’s workforce.
“Every customer or other Cargill facility member that comes into our facility sees the engagement of our employees. They work hard and do a fantastic job. They care about what they do every single day,” he said.
The company has plans to put together a team of Hazleton employees who can go to other Cargill facilities and help them achieve the same results.
Cargill operates out of a 225,000-square-foot plant on a 40-acre site in Humboldt Industrial Park. It plans to add 30 additional employees by the end of the summer.