By: Dennis Boik
Having worked in the meat industry for nearly 40 years, I’ve seen a lot of changes, some of the most significant being in the environmental management systems and sustainability efforts many companies have implemented. Twenty years ago it was practically unheard of for a company to have an environmental management system. In my previous role at Hormel, we started with an informal plan and soon moved to a written one and finally a more formalized documented version. Many other companies have followed a similar path, assisted by the work of the environment committee at the American Meat Institute, which was formed around a decade ago to help companies meet environmental compliance standards. More recently, sustainability has been a major focus with companies making significant strides in their efforts operate facilities in a more sustainable manner.
AMI Foundation Awards Program
Despite all the progress made over the last two decades, I still believe more can be done to spread the word about the benefits of environmental management efforts and we want to continue to encourage companies throughout the industry to use AMI educational and web-based resources to improve and expand environmental management and sustainability programs at the corporate and plant level. One way we’ve done this is through the AMI Foundation Environmental Recognition Awards, which are presented each March. The Environmental Recognition Awards Program is a four-tier, voluntary environmental management system toolbox, coupled with an awards program that ranges from simple to complex. The program begins in Tier One with a basic package of environmental policy statements and environmental policy compliance criteria, advances through more comprehensive requirements in Tier Two, incorporates a complete EMS model developed in cooperation with the EPA as Tier Three, and culminates with an ISO 14001 EMS as Tier Four. This year 116 plants were recognized.
Environment & Sustainability Videos
This year, we took the awards program a step further by interviewing many of the leading companies in the industry about their environmental management systems and sustainability programs. The interviews are part of a new video series that is now available online. The videos cover four topics including:
- The Importance of an Environmental Management System
- Key Approaches Within Environmental Management Systems
- The Importance of the AMI Environmental Recognition Awards
- Messages to Consumers about the Industry’s Environmental & Sustainability Efforts
They are part of a continuously growing collection of information and ideas at www.sustainablemeatindustry.org and www.meatami.com including the fundamentals of sustainability training series. There is always more we can do as an industry to ensure we are being good stewards of the environment and producing our products sustainably, but if the progress of the last 20 years is any indication, we will continue to make positive strides to accomplishing our goals.