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Green Hogs: The U.S.'s First Zero-Waste Pork Processing Plant Coming Soon

The plan is ambitious: a farmer hopes to process Heritage Acre Foods pork, and then capture and reprocess the waste in a biodiesel plant that runs generators, which will power the processing facility.

hogVegetarians generally have a smaller food-related environmental impact than meat-eaters, but that doesn't mean environmentalists should give up on meat-processing operations. Witness Russ Kremer, a Missouri-based hog farmer and leader of a group of 51 family farmers that sell meat under the brand Heritage Acre Foods. Kremer is in the midst of installing the country's first 100% biodiesel-powered, zero-waste pork processing plant.

The plan is ambitious: Kremer hopes to process Heritage Acre Foods pork, and then capture and reprocess the waste in a biodiesel plant that runs generators, which will power the processing facility. Any extra power required by Heritage will be produced using solar and wind power and stored in massive battery packs provided by lithium-ion battery company Corvus Energy.

"We're helping revolutionize farming by providing family farms with the capability to capture consistent, green energy," said Brent Perry, president and chief executive officer for Corvus, in a statement. "This is the first time that truly effective portable and remote energy storage has been created for a farm and pork processing plant."

Kremer's meat isn't half bad, either. He farms only pasture-raised, hormone-free hogs fed a diet of soy, corn, and oats. Greening the processing aspect of his business is the next logical step.

Heritage hasn't revealed how much the zero-waste move costs, but we're guessing it isn't cheap. Ultimately, though, Heritage will make money back on the venture—it's cheaper to recycle waste for energy than to rely on the grid. The new processing system will be ready in two years.

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Ariel Schwartz can be reached by email.

[Image by Rennett Stowe]

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