There’s a growing list of companies and organizations announcing sustainability targets. The latest, from Tyson Foods, the global protein company, sets a goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its global operations and supply chain by 2050. Tyson is the first U.S.-based protein company to have an emissions reduction target approved by the Science Based Target initiative, which was set in conjunction with the release of the company’s fiscal year 2020 Sustainability Progress Report.
In a media statement at the release of the 2020 report, John R. Tyson, chief sustainability officer, comments that “at Tyson Foods we believe progress requires accountability and transparency and we are proud to exemplify that as we work to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”
The move to net zero is an expansion of the company’s current target of achieving a 30% GHG emissions reduction by 2030, which is aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees C. The company has 239 facilities and 139,000 employees worldwide, and achieving the more ambitious net zero emissions goal will loo at emissions tied to direct global operations, energy sources and throughout the supply chain.
The company listed the following priorities to help meet the goal:
- Updating the baseline for emissions to align with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C, consistent with the Paris Agreement, by the end of 2023.
- Establishing a pathway to using 50% renewable energy across its domestic operations by 2030.
- Completing an initial land stewardship target of engaging 2 million feed acres and expanding total acres by 2025, including a total target of 100% of feed purchased by 2030.
- Expanding the company’s current 5 million grazing lands target for sustainable beef production practices by 2025.
- Continuing work to eliminate deforestation risk throughout the global supply chain by 2030.
- Supporting climate action policies through advocacy groups such as the Net Zero Business Alliance.
In the media announcement, Donnie King, Tyson Foods president and CEO says: “We believe what good food can do for people and the planet is powerful. Our net zero ambition is another important step in our work toward realizing our aspiration to become the most transparent and sustainable food company in the world.”
He adds that partnership and collaboration will be key to company efforts and “we look forward to working with our customers, supply chain partners, and other stakeholders to achieve net zero.”
Tyson’s announcement is aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals outlined at tysonsustainability.com. As part of that sustainability work the company reports it will continue involvement in World Wildlife Fund Forest Land and Agriculture Consultative Group, and continue partnerships and collaborations with organizations including the World Resources Institute, The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund and the World Wildlife Fund. The company aims to work with partners to identify and build on the existing net zero pathway, focusing on investments, renewable energy, land stewardship, deforestation, manure management, farm energy, feed, fertilizer, enteric methane and external partnerships.
Jenny Ahlen, senior director at the Environmental Defense Fund, is quoted in the announcement: “It’s great to see Tyson embrace net zero as a business imperative. Success will be determined by what follows next, because the hard work is only beginning. We’re excited to work with Tyson in developing an action plan and interim targets, and to drive change at scale.”
Key 2020 sustainability achievements
Introduction of the new ambition comes in conjunction with the release of the company’s 2020 sustainability Progress Report, which details how the firm is delivering on its sustainability targets across all its business operations. The report focuses on three main pillars that reflect Tyson’s core values and goals. Here’s a look at the three pillars and the work reported for fiscal year 2020:
Empowering people, customers and communities:
- Industry first addition of a Chief Medical Officer position
- Offers English as a Second Language, financial literacy and citizenship classes across 59 plants, representing more than half of Tyson’s U.S.-based locations.
- Introduction of Upward Pathways, a new approach to create opportunities for and encourage upward mobility for the company’s team members.
- Donated more food in a year than ever before in the company’s 85-year history, amounting to 31 million pounds or 124 million meals valued at $65 million.
Conserving natural resources and protecting the planet:
- Set new contextual water targets that consider local environments and conditions across three priority facilities.
- Transitioned vergin fiber paperboard to 100% post-consumer recycled contend across the Jimmy Dean brand.
- Launched zero waste to landfill pilot projects at three production facilities and diverted nearly 5.2 million pounds of waste from landfills, an 60% increase from 2019.
Innovating smart, responsible agriculture:
- Became the first U.S. food company to announce work to verify sustainable production practices at scale in our beef supply chain.
- Developed and publicly release a Forest Protection Standard outlining steps to continue minimizing deforestation risk and protect the forests in 6% of the company’s land footprint that was identified as medium-to-high risk for deforestation.
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