Reduction in Waste Generation in a Chicken Processing Plant USA 1989 Full scale



Equity is an American chicken processing facility which produces chicken nuggets by grinding and blending chicken meat, forming nuggets, battering and breading the meat and then frying, freezing, and packaging. The plant has 275 employees and produces 2.5 million breaded chicken nuggets daily.

The facility had high water usage and high BOD loading in its wastewater. Changes in City sewer ordinance forced the company to investigate ways to reduce its BOD loading into the city sewer.

Cleaner Production Principle:

Housekeeping; Recovery, reuse and recycle.

Cleaner Production Application:

Following a waste reduction audit a combination of employee training and supervision, process/equipment modification, better housekeeping, waste segregation and reclamation techniques were employed. A Waste Awareness Program has been crucial to employee involvement.

The major sources of waste were raw chicken, fat, dry batter, and processed nuggets washed down the floor drains. Dry cleanup methods were employed, dry and wet wastes were separated, processing equipment was modified to catch particles prior to hitting the floor. Water clean-up occurs only after all dry ingredients are removed from the floor and machinery. Collected dry waste material is sold off-site as animal feed or to be rendered.

All the technologies used are fully implemented. Some processing equipment was specifically modified for this application.

Environmental and Economic Benefits:

The pollution prevention changes were in response to a new City pre-treatment ordinance which set new sewage discharge limits and increased surcharge costs. Equity's BOD loading were well above the limits and were very costly. The water used and waste generated before and after the implementation of the above described CP options are as follows:

Material Category Quantity Before Quantity After
Waste Generation BOD 4,500 lbs/day BOD 2,250 lbs/day
Water Use 200,000 gal/day Not reported

Economic benefits include $10,000 month savings on sewage surcharge costs, income from sending 5 million pounds of protein and carbohydrate dry waste off site for uses as animal feed and an unspecified amount of waste sent to a rendering plant. Reusing this dry waste rather than landfilling it prevents approximately 30 ton/week of solid waste being sent to a landfill. BOD loading were cut by 50%. Water use was reduced but the exact amount reduced was unreported.

The company saved $10,000 per month on sewage surcharge fees (based on 1989 prices).

It is assumed that water use was reduced as a result of the waste reduction techniques employed. The author infers that water use declined but never explicitly states it. This assumption was used in reporting the clean technology benefits.


Keeping employees habits from reverting back to old wasteful ways is a constant challenge. The company established a Waste Awareness Program to keep employees involved.


Type of Source Material: Conference Proceedings.

Citation : Global Pollution Prevention - '91, International Conference and Exhibition, The Environmental Ethic of the 1990s. Washington, DC, April 3 - 5, 1991, edited by Lorraine R. Penn. Low Tech Waste Reduction - The Equity Story, Stephanie Richardson, p. 402.

Level of Detail of the Source Material : Additional detail of waste audit steps, employee training program, and waste reduction techniques are provided.

Industry/Program Contact and Address :
Ms. Stephanie Richardson
Program Manager, North Carolina Pollution Prevention Program
Raleigh, NC.

Review Status:

This case study was originally abstracted for the above cited document for the US EPA's Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse. In 1994 it underwent a UNEP IE funded review for quality and completeness. It was edited for the ICPIC diskette in August 1995. Subsequently in September 1998, the case study was technically reviewed by Dr. Prasad Modak, Environmental Management Centre,  Mumbai, India.