Reducing waste to help the environment

By Brandie Piper

Think of Earth as a house with 7 billion tenants. Everyone needs to do their part to keep the house clean. Whether it’s finding ways to reuse or conserve water, starting a backyard compost pile or recycling, there’s always room to do more. Friday, June 5 is World Environment Day, and it’s an opportunity to take some time to think of ways to reduce waste and improve the environment.

Recycling and composting are two easy ways to help prevent unnecessary waste from polluting the ground. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says these methods led to a 7 percent decrease in the amount of trash sent to landfills in 2012 compared to 1990.

At a landfill, the ground is lined with a layer of protective plastic. The solid waste is dumped and compacted. Each day the waste is topped with a layer of soil, and the process starts over the next day. When the hole is full, it’s capped with vegetation, sealing the trash for hundreds of years.

Each year Americans throw away approximately 251 million pounds of trash, according to the EPA. Nearly 35 percent of trash is composted or recycled. There is room for improvement.

At Monsanto, we’re committed to finding ways to use resources more efficiently. In 2014, we took our first steps in truly understanding the amount of waste produced by each of our sites around the world. In fiscal year 2014, globally, we shipped or composted 314,000 metric tons of materials from our owned, leased, and contracted operations.

Ten percent of the waste went to landfills, and 5 percent was incinerated, which means 85 percent of our waste was diverted from landfills.

Here are a few examples of areas where we were successful in diverting waste from landfills:

  • Seventy-one percent of that number was recycled, reused or composted. As an example, after corn harvest, we and our farmer growers either leave the crop residue – the leaves and stalks – on the ground to cover the soil or we use it as a feed for animals.
  • Twelve percent of the waste we produced was put toward energy recovery. In Brazil, for example, after removing corn from the cob, we use the cobs as an energy source to power our facilities, instead of using coal.
  • At our Muscatine site, instead of discarding seed that is considered unusable or unsuitable for planting, we use that seed as an energy source for the facility, blending the seed with coal to produce steam for the facility. As a result, we’ve been able to keep 17,000 tons of carbon and 61 tons of sulfur oxide out of the atmosphere.

You can read more about the composting and energy conservation efforts and Monsanto’s dedication to a sustainable approach to doing business in the Monsanto Sustainability Report. We will continue to track and report these numbers, and most important, strive to reduce the amount of waste.

Published June 5, 2015 on

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