Clean Water. Clean Communities.

Sanderson employees with their clean water award

Sanderson Farms’ Kinston, North Carolina processing facility was recently awarded the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association’s 2016 Clean Water Award for their conservation of natural resources, generation of renewable energy, regulatory compliance, employee development and community service. The company’s Kinston facility was selected as the winner in the full treatment category, which recognizes poultry facilities that fully reclaim wastewater prior to a final land application system.

“Sanderson Farms knew that operational excellence would be important, but also that demonstrating its strong sense of values that support the environment, social responsibility and the local area would be critical,” said Ben Ferguson, Division Manager of the Kinston, North Carolina facility.

Sanderson Farms’ Kinston Processing facility employs more than 1,400 people and processes an average of 1,250,000 birds per week. State-of-the-art wastewater treatment facilities treat water utilized in its operations to thoroughly clean and chill products as well as sanitize facilities. Utilizing biological treatment, oxygenation, clarification and ultra-violet disinfection to treat water, the facility discharges treated water through their land application system.

During land application, treated water is discharged onto spray fields that grow hay crops. Soil and crop physical and biological processes provide further treatment and polishing of the water to achieve drinking water quality replenishments to ground water. Harvesting the crops removes and recycles the nutrients, therefore the use of standard farming practices provides an indefinite life cycle for wastewater land application.

By implementing land treatment at the Kinston facility, Sanderson Farms is using a sustainable environmental practice eliminating direct discharge to sensitive water bodies. This process allows the company to replenish natural water sources, support stream flow and propagate vegetative cover while organically fertilizing farmland and irrigating crops.

“There are a lot of checks and balances in the system and we try to be very transparent,” said Pete Onidi, Environmental Supervisor at Kinston Processing. “Anything that we can regain and anything that we can recycle, we do. That’s how far ahead we try to be.”

In addition to conserving water and recycling wastewater, the Kinston, North Carolina facility utilizes renewable energy by capturing and refining biogas. With this technology, biogas functions as pipeline quality natural gas and can be used throughout the plant without any equipment modifications.

“As an established leader in the poultry industry, Sanderson Farms is committed to managing our operations efficiently while protecting our vital resources and minimizing our impact on the environment around us,” said Pic Billingsley, Director of Development and Engineering for Sanderson Farms. “We are pleased to be recognized for our commitments to responsible operation, and we are especially appreciative to our employees at our Kinston, North Carolina facility for their commitment to excellence in operation. Without a commitment to environmental stewardship at Kinston, as well as at all of our Sanderson Farms facilities, we would not be able to achieve such high levels of environmental excellence.”

Aspiring to be a leader in the community, employees at Sanderson Farms’ Kinston processing facility adopted a “hands-on” approach to community engagement in the form of adopting a local highway beautification project by picking up litter and keeping the road clean. The poultry facility also supports several schools and community groups throughout the Kinston area including United Way, Greater Kinston Chamber of Commerce, Kinston High School and several area blood drives.

“There is no gray area when it comes to the environment,” said Billingsley. “We’re going to make sure that we leave the environment in the areas that we operate better than we found them.”


Sanderson Farms’ environmental team in Kinston, North Carolina, pictured above from left, Tim Carroll, Spray Field Operator; Craig Smith, Grounds Maintenance Operator; Pete Onidi, Environmental Supervisor; Jon Jones, Wastewater Lab Operator; Stephanie Shoemaker, Manager of Environmental Services- Regulatory and Permitting; Delanie Davis, Grounds Maintenance Operator; and Terry Summers, Spray Crew Operator. Pictured on the left at U.S. Poultry’s Environmental Management Seminar are, from left, Brenda Flick, Manager of Environmental Services- Auditing and Compliance; Dwayne Holifield, Manager of Environmental Services- Operations; Stephanie Shoemaker; and Brian Kiepper, Associate Professor for the University of Georgia.