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Home > Feature Articles > Food Processing for Sustainable, Local, Organic and Effective Food Distribution

Air Quality Solutions for Food Processing and Food Manufacturing Facilities

Air emissions are not always a direct concern for the food-processing industry, however their reliance on transportation, hot water and large processing facilities have an impact on climate change, air temperature and air quality.

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Air Quality

Most operations typically utilize electric power and rarely emit harmful compounds to the environment during normal production operations. Air emissions from biological treatment processes have become an area of concern, but a relatively minor one compared to wastewater issues.
  • Urban heat islands are created by concrete expanses, dark roofs and paved streets. The heat from these hard surfaces can be reduced with strategies such as: white roofs, living roofs and walls, solar panel arrays,
  • Heat exchangers can suck energy out of hot water processes and return profits from this cogeneration process.

Landfills also can create air pollutants that arise from methane generated by rotting organic materials. Food waste is one component of this organic landfill content and this air quality issue is another reason to maximize recycling of materials.

  • Composting with earthworms can offer nutritious soil reclamation for agricultural lands and minimize emissions from largescale composting operations
  • Finding animal feed, paper and energy markets to take scraps and waste can reduce solid waste impact on air and land quality.

Transportation Optimization for Food Manufacturing

Transportation is a major contributor to regional air quality, and food companies are heavy users of ships, trucks and trains -- which cause considerable emissions of noxious fumes into the air. More sustainable transportation practices include:
  • Optimize routing to reduce idle time, heavy traffic and unnecessary mileage
  • Reduce packaging so that shipping is most efficient
  • Use trucks that are upfitted with EPA "Smartway" emissions reduction strategies such as air guards, filters, auxiliary power units and high performance tires.

National Centers that Support Food Manufacturing Sustainability

Center for Byproducts Utilization
Milwaukee, WI

Department of Food Science and Technology
Corvallis, OR

Food Industry Research at U.S. Department of Energy
Washington, DC

National Solid Waste Management Association
Trenton, NJ

NCSU Food Science Program
Raleigh, NC

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Richland, WA

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Washington, DC

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Washington, DC

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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