Tyson Foods Dumps More Pollution Into Waterways Each Year Than Exxon
As shareholders of Tyson Foods, Inc. prepare to vote on a resolution that would require the food giant to institute a “water stewardship" policy, new data shows the company regularly dumps a higher volume of pollution into waterways than companies like ExxonMobil and Dow Chemical.
The Environment America analysis shows Tyson and its subsidiaries released 104 million pounds of pollution to surface waters from 2010 to 2014, nearly seven times the volume of surface water discharges by Exxon during those years.
“Tyson is dumping a huge volume of pollution into our waterways," John Rumpler, senior attorney with Environment America, said. “That's why Tyson's shareholders should vote to ensure that the company cleans up its act."
Filed by the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, with four investor co-filers from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the resolution considered at Tyson's annual meeting in Springdale, Arkansas would require the company to “reduce risks of water contamination" from its thousands of facilities, suppliers and contractors across the U.S.
“Water is more than a community issue; access to clean, refreshing, life-giving water is a human right," Michaele Birdsall, treasurer and deputy executive director of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, said. “Because we continue to be as committed to the environmental and social performance of the companies in our investment portfolio as we are to their financial performance, we offer a resolution for a vote by all Tyson shareholders that addresses the availability of clean and safe water for all people. Corporate policies that protect water in communities where they operate are fundamental to corporations' social responsibility to society."
The data by Environment America comes from the Toxics Release Inventory, the federal government's database of self-reported releases of pollutants into the nation's waterways.
Much of the pollution from Tyson's facilities is in the form of nitrate compounds, which can contribute to algal blooms and dead zones and also pose threats to human health, including “blue baby syndrome" for infants.
The Toxics Release Inventory does not include other sources of pollution from Tyson's supply chain, such as manure from factory farms that raise chickens and other livestock for the company. For example, Maryland state officials estimate that massive chicken operations on the Eastern Shore produce 228,000 tons more manure than can be applied to local fields without polluting nearby waters such as the Chesapeake Bay.
Environment America said Tyson Foods and other agribusinesses should reduce their water pollution by taking responsibility for manure from factory farms, requiring comprehensive efforts to minimize fertilizer runoff wherever grain is grown for their livestock and cutting direct discharges of nitrates and other compounds at processing plants.
“If we want clean water in our rivers, our bays and our drinking water sources," Rumpler said, “companies like Tyson will have to dramatically cut pollution from their operations."
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By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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