Reducing wastewater by 95 percent and removing 194 tons of waste from landfills each month, Hiland Dairy Foods Company was recognized at the 2018 ProFoods Live conference for their recent sustainability efforts.
The Hiland Dairy plant in Chandler, Oklahoma, had been paying to process whey wastewater, a byproduct of cottage cheese production, but made the decision to begin recycling the leftover material by utilizing it as fertilizer to irrigate crops.
"We started looking at building our own wastewater treatment facility in Chandler," said David Smith, operations manager at Hiland Dairy. "We purchased 620 acres of land near the plant for a whey recycling and wastewater treatment facility. We have lagoons that use aerobic bacteria to treat about 250,000 gallons of wastewater a day. Then we have the aeration and holding ponds, which, together, hold 28 million gallons."
After installing the wastewater treatment facility, Hiland continued forward with their sustainability initiative, working to remove tea bags used to produce one of their products, Red Diamond Tea. The company now spreads shredded tea bags on 60 acres of land, adding nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium back into the soil.
"At Hiland Dairy, we've made investments to take the three biggest wastes out of the plant and put them to work revitalizing the land," Smith said. "To be a part of such an enormous effort and see it not only succeed on a local level but also earn national recognition is incredible. It makes me proud to work for a company that's dedicated to innovation like Hiland is."
To learn more about Hiland's sustainability efforts, click here.