Waste Reduction and Recycling | Pilgrim's Sustainability Report

Our Commitment

Pilgrim’s overall commitment is to reuse or recycle the maximum amount of materials with the goal of sending as little to landfills as possible. Each facility works to recycle material and reduce waste by optimizing facility logistics and team member training.

Waste and Recycling Practices

In each of our production facilities, we have goals to decrease the amount of packaging used in our finished products and decrease waste sent to landfills from each facility. Pilgrim’s Moy Park team continued to maintain its commitment of zero waste to landfill across all facilities. The majority of Pilgrim’s UK facilities maintained a commitment of zero waste to landfill in 2020 and all Pilgrim’s UK facilities will have this commitment in 2021.

In Europe, Moy Park was the first poultry company to undertake a commitment to reduce packaging and food waste in its value chain. The initiative is part of an ambitious campaign to combat the use of plastics and packaging in its business and in the industry. The company plans to lower its global use of packaging by 5% each year, while simultaneously raising the percentage of recyclable packages by 5%. Both Moy Park and Pilgrim’s UK have adopted the strategy of “Remove, Reduce, Recycle and Research” and will begin using 100% recyclable rigid packaging by 2022. All other packaging will be widely recyclable by 2025.

As a company, we continue to explore alternative materials that offer recyclability and technologies that allow us to reduce the amount of packaging needed, while still maintaining strict product safety requirements. In our day-to-day operations, we work to improve recycling opportunities at each facility and reduce overall waste generated.

Product packaging provides a unique challenge for our industry. To prevent contamination, packaging materials used at production facilities that come into contact with blood, meat or fat cannot be recycled, per the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries standards. Due to the nature of our products, this reduces our ability to recycle packaging material used at our production facilities.

The meat processing industry is incredibly efficient from a food waste prevention standpoint. We process byproducts, such as blood, feathers and bones, to create saleable materials and reduce waste. Nearly 100% of inedible byproducts are rendered to produce tallow and feather and bone meal, which we then sell to other companies to be used in goods, such as in livestock or poultry feed. Pilgrim’s UK has commitments to both the Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 and to Courtauld Commitment which are both working towards halving food waste by 2030. Currently only 0.1% of Pilgrim’s UK’s production is classified as food waste. Actions employed to reduce this number even further include using the Waste Hierarchy to derive as much value as possible from all product and donating approximately 90,000 meals equivalents in 2019 to food redistribution charities to prevent food waste.

Reducing and Recycling Waste

In the U.S., we strive to recycle all that we can at our facilities. We recycle:


of clean cardboard material, which is sent to recycling centers or paper mills to be reused


of our pallets, which are returned to our suppliers for reuse


of all metal, which is sent to a salvage yard


of clean, non-contaminated plastic, which is collected in bins and then sent to either a recycling center or melted down and repurposed to make new products


of our plastic high-density polyethylene (HDPE) tote bags, which are sold to our original manufacturer and then reused in our next order, creating a closed loop system

2020 Progress

We have continued to focus on improving data quality related to waste and packaging, as a result we are tracking more indicators and are able to better understand and monitor our waste streams. Improved data quality also leads to more complete measurements which are higher than partially complete past data. As a global company, from 2019 to 2020, total waste generated decreased 30%, waste sent to landfills decreased 28%, and waste to landfill per ton of finished product decreased 28%. As a highlight, Pilgrim’s UK has a majority of their facilities which maintain a commitment of zero waste to landfill, and our Pilgrim’s Moy Park team continued to maintain its commitment of zero waste to landfill across all facilities in 2020.

In the U.S. and Puerto Rico, approximately 74% of our packaging used is biodegradable and recyclable packaging material; and our total packaging material per ton of finished products including by-products decreased 1% in 2020. We will continue to stay focused on increasing our recyclable packaging and will stay committed to reducing our packaging per ton of finished product produced.

The data below represents our best efforts at tracking waste and recycling at our facilities. In some cases, the local municipality collects all waste and recycling, which makes tracking the data impossible. We are currently working to develop collaborative partnerships in these locations, so we can share data to better track our performance.

Waste Performance**

Pilgrim’s U.S. and Puerto Rico Pilgrim’s Mexico Pilgrim’s Europe*
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Total Waste Generated
88,325 98,239 79,156 61,111 41,355 207,551 196,376 113,026 87,436 74,622 109,314 95,262 179,115 210,859 135,364
Total Waste to Landfill
73,438 82,046 70,117 54,360 34,302 207,551 31,509 14,709 21,433 19,930 0 0 0 721 516
Waste to Landfill Intensity
(Per Ton of Finished Product Including By-Products)
0.0153 0.0165 0.0142 0.0106 0.0067 0.2134 0.0317 0.0147 0.0875 0.0741 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0007 0.0005
Total Waste Recycled
14,887 16,193 4,904 6,751 7,053 0 164,848 27,590 5,384 2,659 13,119 0 56,443 69,012 16,699
Total Waste Composted
0 0 0 0 0 0 6 70,714 60,614 52,030 11,453 0 1,602 0 0
Total Waste Incinerated
0 0 0 0 0 0 13 14 5 4 2,328 10,976 12,330 14,246 26,578
Total Waste for Energy Reuse
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 35,164 40,627 105,708 109,628 47,878
Total Waste Cogeneration/Coprocesse
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 504 3,031 17,252 14,436
Total Waste for Fertigation /Land Application
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 47,251 43,155 0 0 29,257

*Tulip was acquired in Oct. 2019 and the name was changed to Pilgrim’s UK; Pilgrim’s UK data has been included in Pilgrim’s Europe as of 2019

**We make every effort to report accurate data. We provide updated data from previous years in cases where improved information is available. JBS USA/Pilgrim’s revisited data collection processes and as a result, this report includes some improved metrics from past years.

Packaging Performance

Pilgrim’s U.S. and Puerto Rico
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Packaging Material Used
147,037 152,989 159,472 165,952 164,752
Total Packaging Material Used Intensity
(Per Ton of Finished Product)
0.0307 0.0307 0.0322 0.0325 0.0321
Total Biodegradable and Recyclable Packaging Material Used
98,045 105,925 113,753 116,593 122,065
Percentage Biodegradable and Recyclable Packaging Materials 66.7% 69.2% 71.3% 70.3% 74.1%