In this video press conference series, West Liberty Foods celebrated being certified a landfill-free company at the Bolingbrook, Ill. facility where a number of speakers highlighted the process and thanked the participants.

Michele Boney, Director of Environmental Health and Safety at West Liberty Foods: I would like to welcome everybody here for our fourth landfill-free celebration. We should all give everybody a hand, because everybody deserves it. We are celebrating four different facilities. We have three facilities under Bolingbrook, and that’s main culinary, waste-water and then we have our new facility Liberty Cold that we are representing today for landfill-free.

I found a quote the other day, and it reminds me of how I feel West Liberty Foods conducts their business every day, and it was from Martin Luther King Jr. It said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” I truly believe that’s West Liberty Foods. West Liberty Foods has been a leader in sustainability since we had the first turkey processing facility ISO 14001 certified in 2003. ISO is an environmental management system, and we’ve been doing the right thing since 2003. Every one of our facilities gets ISO certified as well, and we just certified Liberty Cold and Bolingbrook facilities in May of this year so they got that certification as well.

What is landfill-free? Not a lot of people know that. Ed actually called me up one day and wanted to know, “Hey, can you get West Liberty Foods landfill-free?” and I said, “Well, I don’t know why we can’t.” He said, “Can you do it in a year?” and I said, “I don’t know if we can make that or not, but we’ll try.” After that, he said, “I don’t want to be just landfill-free though. I want to be able to tell people and certify that we are landfill-free.” So we called a lot of different registrars, called people who could do this certification for us, and NSF International, that’s who certifies us and ISO certification, they are a registrar. They came to the table and said, “Michele, we’d love to work with you. We will create a whole program on how we can do landfill-free, and then other companies in the future can also do landfill-free.” So we partnered with them and created an audit program and a certification program with them. It was a privilege for West Liberty Foods to be a part of that. Less than one percent of all of our waste can end up in a landfill, so it has to be less than that one percent. That’s what landfill-free is. That’s what on our landfill-free certification.

Becoming landfill-free takes a lot of commitment, and I will say it takes commitment from every single team member that works for us and doing the right thing. It’s hard to change a culture from putting things into one waste container to going into a room where you have eight different waste containers. It’s teaching people how to sort those materials into the right classification so they can be recycled. But we did, and that’s how we did it. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the team members, because without you, we would not be here today celebrating landfill-free certification.

Now, I have some numbers to share with you, the Bolingbrook numbers. We did some percentages of how it breaks out. Ninety-one percent of the Bolingbrook [facility’s] waste is being recycled today. Nine percent of that is being incinerated at a waste-energy facility. Now, waste-energy facility, some people say they are bad, some people say they are great, but they do have a purpose. They’re burning waste that would have went into the ground and they are utilizing it for power. Then, they are utilizing the ash that comes off of that at these incinerators… that goes into the landfills, it covers the landfills instead of using a natural resource of lime [powder] to cover those resources, so that is most of the one percent that West Liberty has to account for is that ash that’s going into the landfills. Of that, we only had 0.14 percent that [went to a] landfill for the Bolingbrook facilities. Now for Liberty Cold, some of their numbers… 98.4 percent was recycled, 1.35 percent was incinerated at the waste-energy facility, [and] 0.25 percent was landfill. Pretty good numbers.

Another thing we have to do is we have to partner with different organizations. That’s another philosophy that West Liberty Foods has is creating partnerships. We have a lot of partnerships with vendors, and a lot of those vendors are here today.

The last person I need to thank has a passion for sustainability as big as mine, and without her continued support and drive these facilities would have struggled to become landfill free as fast as they did. I believe you have to have a champion, and we have champions at each of these facilities who really drives the communication, what we need to do, communication with the vendors. All of these things is through the champion at the facilities to drive the culture as well. And that person is Amy Coleman. I want to personally thank you Amy for all that you do at your facility.

For more videos on West Liberty Foods Bolingbrook facility’s landfill-free certification, click here.