Beef Company Prepares 2014 Launch of Biogas Program After Successful Pilot

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Sukarne Biogas Pilot Program Draws to Close; Full-Scale Launch Expected in 2014

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While Sukarne, a giant in the beef exporting world, already minimizes its environmental impact by turning manure into fertilizer and making its fleet more efficient the crown jewel of its sustainability practices is its 3-year-old biogas pilot project.

In partnership with two Canadian research centers, Sukarne has installed a bio digester that converts manure, corn and grease into gas that could some day be compressed and used to power its fleet of trucks and provide heat and power to its facilities. The full-scale launch of the program is set for 2014, according to a company spokesman, however, details have yet to be finalized.

“The idea is that each plant will be self-sufficient in terms of both electricity and thermal energy,” Sustainability Vice President Jorge Siller says.

More than 700,000 liters of biogas is produced each month, and Siller expects each plant to generate 3 megawatts of electricity and 3.5 Mw of thermal energy monthly, enough to power 3,000 homes.

Sukarne doesn’t gain much of a competitive advantage from improving its sustainability practices, but Jesus Vizcarra Calderon, the company’s president, predicts that someday, consumers will regard a company’s sustainability policies as highly as the products they’re buying.

“This is a model that will help us survive in the future,” Vizcarra says. “I don’t believe that we have to sacrifice environmental responsibility to be financially successful. I believe we can do both.”

L. Lamor Williams is a freelance journalist and public relations account executive for Mangan Holcomb Partners, a Little Rock, Ark.-based firm.

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Stephanie Keet