SMITHFIELD, VA. — Smithfield Foods’ Tar Heel, NC, pork processing facility was recognized as a Rising Environmental Steward by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ).

NCDEQ’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative supports companies and facilities that go above and beyond to reduce their environmental footprint. Specifically, the Rising Environmental Steward designation is for organizations that have a mature environmental management system and measurable environmental performance goals.

NCDEQ said Smithfield’s plant was selected for its continued commitment to exceed compliance with environmental regulations and maintain a high standard of environmental excellence.

“Smithfield has prioritized environmental stewardship and transparent reporting for more than two decades,” said Stewart Leeth, chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods. “This recognition from NCDEQ reflects the strength of our environmental programs in North Carolina and our commitment to enhancing and protecting the state's natural resources above and beyond what is required by law.”

For the past 21 years, Smithfield’s Tar Heel facility has been recognized as an environmental leader under the Environmental Stewardship Initiative. It became a Rising Steward in 2005.

The Tar Heel facility utilizes a wastewater treatment system that produces renewable natural gas that powers the plant as well as more than 2,000 local homes and businesses. Its reuse and reclaimed water systems send about 1 million gallons of water per day back to the refrigeration system and outdoor washdown hoses, which helps to significantly lower the facility’s use of potable water.

In addition to the Tar Heel recognition, Smithfield Foods’ Clinton and Wilson, NC, locations earned designations from NCDEQ. The Clinton facility was recognized for environmental performance under the program since 2004 and is also a Rising Environmental Steward. The Wilson facility has been recognized since 2005 and has been named a Steward, NCDEQ’s elite designation for organizations displaying a commitment to exemplary environmental performance beyond what is required by law.