The Environment and Energy Leaders Institute has recognized Kraig Westerbeek, senior director of Smithfield Renewables and hog production environmental affairs, as an Environment + Energy 100 honoree. Environment + Energy 100 is a program that honors individuals for their leadership of environmental, energy and sustainability initiatives at their companies.
“Sustainability is ingrained in our company’s culture and that’s evident by the dedication of our people to doing business the right way,” says Stewart Leeth, vice president of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods. “Kraig plays a leading role in ensuring Smithfield will reach its industry-leading commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2025. It’s an ambitious goal, and Kraig’s passion and innovative thinking will help us hit our mark.”
Westerbeek leads Smithfield Renewables, the company’s platform to unify and accelerate its carbon reduction and renewable energy efforts to help meet its greenhouse gas reduction goal. In this role, he is responsible for developing companywide strategies and initiatives for renewable energy production and energy efficiency efforts at Smithfield’s farms and facilities across the U.S.
As part of his efforts for Smithfield, Westerbeek played an instrumental role in helping the company engage 80% of its grain supply chain in efficient fertilizer and soil health practices, exceeding the original goal. This program zeros-in on Smithfield’s grain supply, the first step in the company’s vertically integrated supply chain. In addition to reducing Smithfield’s GHG emissions, it helps farmers improve their yields, optimize fertilizer usage and reduce runoff.
“Kraig’s leadership in our renewable energy efforts is a key factor in meeting our sustainability goals at Smithfield,” says Bill Gill, assistant vice president of sustainability for Smithfield Foods. “We are immensely proud of his accomplishments and look forward to the groundbreaking projects that lay ahead for Kraig and Smithfield Renewables, keeping Smithfield at the forefront of the industry in sustainability and renewable energy.”
Recently, Westerbeek led the nationwide expansion of Smithfield’s “manure-to-energy” projects to further reduce the company’s GHG emissions and produce clean, renewable energy. As a result of this expansion, Smithfield will implement projects across nearly all of its hog finishing spaces in Missouri and 90% of its hog finishing spaces in North Carolina, Utah and Virginia. Several of these projects are part of a joint venture with Dominion Energy called Align Renewable Natural Gas. In Missouri, Westerbeek also oversees the reestablishment of native grasslands, prairie and milkweed to create habitat for monarch butterflies and provide biomass for methane generation in renewable natural gas projects, which is a project in partnership with Roeslein Alternative Energy.
Westerbeek and other Environment + Energy Leader 100 honorees were recognized Wednesday at the 4th Annual Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference at the Denver Marriott Tech Center.