New research shows the Tyson Fresh Meats animal slaughtering facility in Hillsdale was the top water polluter in Illinois among major agribusiness operations in 2014.
That year, the Tyson Fresh Meats plant released over 2 million pounds of pollutants into the state's waterways, according to the Environment America Research & Education Center's report.
The environmental advocacy group examined the "water pollution footprints" of Tyson Foods and four other major agribusinesses, Cargill, JBS, Perdue and Smithfield, in Illinois and other states. Forty-four percent of the nation's pork, chicken and beef is produced by those five companies, according to the report.
Researchers analyzed the most recent 2014 data from the federal Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) on pollution discharges into waterways from the five major agribusinesses. Among the findings, Tyson's facilities released the most pollutants nationwide -- nearly 21 million pounds.
That's more pollutants "by volume than even Exxon Mobil or DuPont," according to the environmental group.
Eating less meat or none at all has the potential to significantly shrink an individual's diet-related carbon footprint and "can make a valuable contribution to climate change mitigation,"according to a recent study published in the journal Climatic Change.
The study examined the diets of 29,589 meat eaters, 15,751 vegetarians, 8,123 pescatarians (vegetarians who eat fish) and 2,041 vegans between the ages of 20 to 79 in the United Kingdom. Participants took a "food-frequency questionnaire" asking how often in the last year they consumed 130 different food items. Researchers were able to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions, which trap heat and warm up the planet, associated with the various foods.
The "Wasting Our Waterways" report ranks Illinois as the 13th worst U.S. state for the total volume of toxic industrial releases to waterways.
At the national level, polluting facilities dumped 206 million pounds of harmful chemicals into American waterways in 2012, according to the report. And some 8.39 million pounds of toxic pollution were discharged into the Great Lakes watershed. Ammonia, chromium and lead are among the chemicals released into Illinois' waterways, according to the report.
Several Chicago youths are taking part in efforts to increase democracy in the workplace while tackling economic and environmental issues in their neighborhoods through the use of innovative business cooperatives owned and controlled by workers.
Young people from the city's Austin and Rogers Park communities discussed their involvement with cooperative businesses, which are entities owned and managed collectively by workers, at a 2014 Worker Cooperative National Conference held over the weekend at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
In the West Side neighborhood of Austin, an impoverished community struggling with high rates of unemployment and crime, students at the manufacturing-focused Austin Polytechnical Academy launched a business cooperative at their school last year called Mech Creations, which makes trumpet mouthpieces. And on the city's far North Side in Rogers Park, which also faces issues of unemployment and crime, young people are participating in a worker cooperative focused on green infrastructure called Grassroots Ecology. The North Side youth-focused cooperative started building green infrastructure, including rain gardens and barrels to mitigate flooding, in 2012 and plans to incorporate as a limited liability company with cooperative by-laws this fall.
Factory farms are one of the leading causes of pollution in Illinois’ rivers and lakes, according to a group of environmental activists who called on the state to impose stricter regulations—and even a moratorium—on industrial livestock production.
“Clean water is critical to the environment, to public health, and to the quality of life in Illinois. Factory farms seriously threaten the health of our waterways,” said Lisa Nikodem, campaign director for Environment Illinois Research and Education Center.
Environment Illinois joined organic farmers Wednesday morning at the Heartland Café, located at 7000 N. Glenwood Ave. in Chicago, to put a spotlight on water pollution caused by the large-scale release of animal waste at concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), commonly called factory farms.