The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) has awarded the 2021 Clean Water Award to Tyson Foods’ facilities in Nashville, Arkansas and Berryville, Arkansas. Tyson Foods’ Dardanelle, Arkansas facility received an honorable mention with distinction in the full treatment category and Pilgrim’s Pride’s Gainesville, Georgia facility received an honorable mention with distinction in the pretreatment category.

The award is presented annually to poultry facilities that exceed in their commitment to sustainable wastewater treatment and water reuse. A committee of industry engineers, university personnel, and industry media choose the winners, which were announced during USPOULTRY’s Environmental Management Seminar.

The awards are split into two categories: full treatment and pretreatment. “The full treatment category encompasses plants that treat wastewater in accordance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits that allows the facilities to discharge into a receiving stream or final land application system,” USPOULTRY said in a news release. “The pretreatment category includes facilities that discharge pretreated effluent to a publicly-owned, full treatment facility for further treatment. To be eligible, a facility must have a minimum of two years of no significant non-compliances or notices of violations or any other type of enforcement action.”

“We received several terrific applications for this year’s Clean Water Awards, and they should all be commended,” USPOULTRY chairman and Rose Acre Farms vice president of sales Greg Hinton said. “The quality of the applications received is representative of our members’ unwavering commitment to wastewater treatment and the conservation of our earth’s natural resources. Congratulations to this year’s winners.

The awards specifically highlight what the U.S. chicken industry has accomplished in its collective progress in environmental sustainability, which was detailed recently in NCC’s U.S. Broiler Chicken Industry Sustainability Report.

The report details how the U.S. chicken industry achieved significant improvements in key sustainability intensity metrics (environmental footprint per kilogram of bird) between 2010 and 2020, including a reduction of water consumption by 13 percent, land use by 13 percent, greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent, fossil resource use by 22 percent, and particulate forming emissions by 22 percent over the last 10 years.

Despite all of the reductions in resource usage, the report also features the U.S. chicken industry’s success in decreasing broiler chicken on-farm mortality rates by 72 percent since 1925, defining the essential elements of broiler chicken care with NCC’s Welfare Guidelines, donating more than $133 million and 22 million meals to local communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, bolstering food security with broiler exports totaling 7.4 billion pounds in 2020, providing Americans and people across the world with affordable and nutritious protein, and achieving an 86 percent decline in Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordable injuries and illnesses in the poultry processing sector over the last 25 years.

“The U.S. chicken industry is committed to environmentally and socially sustainable production practices to ensure a healthier planet,” NCC President Mike Brown said. “This report is the culmination of that commitment, but it is also a starting point for many more years of collective effort by the U.S. chicken industry to continuously improve and build a more sustainable food system. This past year, we faced COVID-19, extreme weather events, biosecurity issues, and cybersecurity breaches. The U.S. chicken industry stood up to all of these challenges, and we remain even more committed to the sustainable production of America’s No. 1 protein.”