Top Ten Cleantech Highlights of Cargill


Cargill is an American private multinational corporation that is involved in a number of businesses, including agricultural commodities, sale and manufacturing of feed and livestock, food ingredient production such as glucose syrup, starch, and vegetable oils and fats used in processed food applications, and steel and energy trading. Cargill believes in the sustainability of the environment and doing all that it can to protect the environment from numerous challenges. Here is a list of some of the highlights associated with Cargill’s clean technology and sustainability endeavors.

1) Cargill Produces and Markets Ethanol and Biodiesel from a Variety of Feedstocks. In North America, Cargill offers refiners and blenders with a very reliable source of top-grade ethanol. In Europe, Cargill offers CFlow Biodiesel, which is beneficial because it does not block systems, it can be mixed with other types of biodiesel, and it is an improved cost. In Cargill’s El Salvador ethanol dehydration facility Cargill looks to make biodiesel using sugar cane.

2) Carbon Trading and Reduction. Green Hercules Trading Limited is a wholly owned Cargill Holdings subsidiary. Green Hercules Trading has made a lot of progress when it comes to building a diversified carbon dioxide portfolio encompassing a number of projects from different sectors as well as countries. This trading scheme has made Cargill one of the top ten buyers in the world in carbon trading. Green Hercules Trading benefits from, “Receiving the full internal and external support of Cargill’s global network and physical presence; extensive experience in commodities trading and markets; conservative and meticulous approach to portfolio creation and managing risk thereunder, through Cargill’s risk management tools; [and]reliability, particularly in relation to contract performance and the honoring of our obligations.”

3) Ocean Transportation. In Cargill’s long history, they have developed expertise in ocean chartering, logistics, trading and risk management. The ocean freight solutions offered provide global coverage with a reduced rate of carbon dioxide emissions than planes.

4) Cargill Partners with Shell to Fund Biofuels Startup. In June 2010, Cargill and Shell invested $46.6 million into Virent Energy Systems, a biofuels startup company. Virent developed a new technology called bioforming – “a thermochemical process that catalyzes sugars into hydrocarbons, creating molecules similar to those produced in oil refineries.” Virent stated that this new process, which was developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is able to use a variety of different feedstocks, such as cellulose, starches and sugars, and that this technology will assist in creating bio jet fuel, diesel and gasoline, and produce hydrocarbon.

5) Cargill Invests in Biochemical Venture. In May of 2008, Cargill backed Elevance Renewable Sciences, a biochemical venture that uses corn, canola and soy feedstocks in the production of a number of materials and chemicals. With Cargill’s large access to a wide variety of feedstock crops, it could greatly assist in increasing the production of biofuels.

6) Cargill Starts Selling Palm Oil. In July of 2011, Cargill made the announcement that it is going to start selling palm oil to various countries, including the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia by the year 2015. The palm oil being sold by Cargill is to be certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Cargill is currently collaborating with the United States branch of the World Wildlife Fund, to look at the entire progress its suppliers of palm oil in Indonesia are making with applying the principles stemming from the Roundtable.

7) Cargill’s New Waste-to-Energy System to Increase Renewable Capacity. Cargill’s Canadian branch made the announcement in August of 2011 that it is looking to invest $37.8 million ($36 million in Canadian dollars) to a new waste-to-energy project in its beef processing facility located in High River, Alberta. This new system is expected to boost the plant’s ability to generate the energy it needs for production by 80 percent. The project, once complete, is expected to generate 1.4 megawatts and eliminate approximately 21,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions yearly. This system will utilize organic waste that would most likely end up in landfills and will combine with the existing methane gas capture system at the facility.

8 ) Cargill Partners with Local Communities for Waste-to-Energy Projects. Cargill partnered with the North Dakota city of Fargo to assist in new environmental innovations that used current technologies. Fargo had already installed a system used to collect gas produced from decomposing garbage. The system was initially designed to burn off methane and reduce the odor as well as mitigate negative environmental impacts. However, Cargill took the system one step further to see about burning the methane to meet the thermal energy needs of one of their plants that were located in close proximity to the landfill. This would reduce Cargill’s dependence on natural gas. A 1.5 mile pipeline was created with both groups looking to recoup the capital investment and then generate further revenue.

9) Cargill’s Idaho Dairy Farm Digester Produces Electricity. In March 2010, Cargill’s Idaho dairy farm illustrated how environmentally-based innovations can assist in solving programs such as climate change and livestock manure. Cargill built and currently operates an anaerobic digester that converts manure from the 6,000 cows into one million kilowatt hours of electricity monthly. The electricity is sold to a local power grid. ”We look to environmental innovation as a way to preserve and protect the environment,” said Jay Ritzen, managing director, Cargill Environmental Finance, “that includes using energy and resources more wisely in our own operations and helping our customers’ shrink their environmental footprints.”

10) Carbon Credit Initiative. Cargill’s Carbon Credit Initiative was designed to assist in preserving the Amazon Rainforest. Cargill gave $3 million to The Amazon Forest Carbon Partnership and Columbia University to assist in reducing deforestation and degradation through the establishment of a reliable, sturdy standard for forestry carbon credits. “The main goal is to create a platinum standard for forestry carbon credits to ensure they are sustainable, permanent and environmentally friendly across the board,” said Cargill Global Emissions and European Power & Gas (GEEPG) general manager for structured carbon, Michael Dwyer, who steered Cargill’s participation in the partnership.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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