ECO:nomics highlights recycling challenges,
David Steiner speaks alongside CEO of Tyson Foods
Santa Barbara, Calif. – On April 3, David Steiner, CEO of Waste Management, and Donnie Smith,
CEO of Tyson Foods, spoke alongside each other during the ECO:nomics forum in Santa Barbara,
Calif. The annual event, organized and promoted by the Wall Street Journal, brings together company
executives and environmental experts to discuss the most pressing, sustainability related matters
facing businesses today.
The topic of discussion for WM and Tyson: How to Make Recycling Profitable, during which the two
executives described how they worked together to make money from the waste Tyson Foods
“In the chicken business, what do you do with all that’s left over?” asked Host Kimberley Strassel,
reporter and subject matter expert for the Wall Street Journal. “How’s this profitable for both Tyson
and Waste Management?”
“When you look at our business, we bring in two types of materials,” said Smith. “First, we bring in
animals, which we process, and then we bring in the raw materials to process those animals. When
you look at those two streams, it’s that second that generally creates waste, and that’s where great
partners like Waste Management come in.”
As an example, Smith went on to describe how — by working with WM — they audited materials
entering a pork plant in Logansport, Ind. From there, they developed a program to train employees
on how to efficiently separate the different items entering the facility. Doing this increased the
recyclables that could be sold on the commodity market.
As a result, about 70 percent of the waste from the Logansport plant is now being recycled, and
the facility itself is serving as a model for how other facilities can operate. In addition to its
recycling program, Waste Management helped Tyson Foods:
- Install compactor monitoring to lower pick ups
- Divert 20 tons of organic waste to a composting facility
- Eliminate contamination of corrugated cardboard
“It really brings home the point that they’re lowering the conversion cost,” said Steiner. “We can’t do
anything about what we can sell those materials for, like cardboard, plastic or metals. However, if we
can lower the processing costs associated with capturing and separating those materials, we can make
More information about the ECO:nomics conference can be found through The Wall Street Journal
website, including a recap and video.
Photo: Host Kimberley Strassel speaks with Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods, and David Steiner,
CEO of Waste Management.