Tyson and JBS, two of the world’s largest meat producers, have recently announced plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 and 2040, respectively. But will this goal be achievable given the fact that livestock account for about 14.5 percent of total GHG emissions, globally, and roughly two-thirds of those emissions come from cattle?
With sustainability and the protection of the environment reigning as top factors when it comes to consumer purchasing decisions, it is more important than ever for companies to incorporate these aspects into their growth strategies. Following this idea, Tyson and JBS ambitiously put forward new or improved sustainability goals to cut GHG emissions across their global operations.
“As the first US-based protein company in the food and beverage sector to have an emissions reduction target approved by the Science Based Targets initiative, we hope to continue to push the industry as a leader and remain committed to making a positive impact on our planet, with our team members, consumers and customers, and in the communities we serve,” said John R. Tyson, chief sustainability officer at Tyson Foods, in a press release.
The company’s move to net-zero GHG emissions is an expansion of its previous science-based target of cutting GHG emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Tyson employs nearly 140,000 workers across 239 facilities worldwide, highlighting the impact and scope of the goal to achieve net-zero emissions. The project, which will require effort from all workers, will include looking at the company’s emissions tied to energy sources, global operations and throughout the company’s supply chain.
Meanwhile, JBS announced its net-zero emissions goals back in March, making it the first major company in its field to set that target. After a record-setting year of sales in 2020, the world’s largest meat producer had the extra funds to spend on removing illegal deforestation from its Amazon supply chain. But the plan doesn’t stop there.
The company’s website states it will achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by reducing direct and indirect emissions and offsetting all residual emissions. JBS has already reduced almost 20 percent of its GHG emissions in the North American operations since 2015 and by over 77 percent in the UK and Northern Ireland since 2010. Like Tyson, JBS will provide a roadmap consistent with the criteria set forth by the Science-Based Targets initiative.
“Climate change is the great challenge of our time and we must act urgently to combat the negative effects of global warming,” said Gilberto Tomazoni, global CEO at JBS in a press release. “As one of the most diversified global food companies, we have an opportunity to leverage our scale and influence to help lead a sustainable transformation of agricultural markets that empowers producers, suppliers, customers and consumers.”
As two global players in meat production, some of Tyson’s and JBS’ sustainability initiatives are interchangeable. For example, both companies will transition to renewable energy and eliminate deforestation on their individual timelines. Much like other big food and beverage brands pledging to achieve net-zero GHG emissions, both companies will collaborate with environmental groups to keep them on track.
Neither Tyson nor JBS would be the first meat company to achieve net-zero emissions. In 2019, Canadian poultry brand Maple Leaf Foods announced it had become the first major food company in the world to become carbon neutral. It was able to do this by aggressively reducing its GHG emissions and investing in high-impact environmental projects to neutralize its remaining and unavoidable emissions.
Since meat production inescapably emits greenhouse gases, both Tyson and JBS will have to invest in projects to offset their emissions, eventually bringing them to zero.