How Herr's feeds potato chips to cows to help the environment

NOTTINGHAM, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Herr's potato chips have been enjoyed by the greater Philadelphia area for more than 75 years.

But not every chip is perfect. In fact, some are marked with imperfections and would otherwise become food waste.

"We don't want them to find their way to the bag," said Peter Graziano, Research and Development Director with Herr Foods. "We also don't want to just throw them in the trash and fill up the landfill."

The problem was noticed decades ago by founder James S. Herr. And fortunately, his solution proved sustainable enough to continue pursuing for decades to come.

"We have a pretty special setup here with our farm down the street, where we can pick those chips out and send them to the farm for the cattle feed," said Graziano.

A sophisticated sensor system uses cameras and jetstreams of air to knock down undesirable chips onto a separate conveyor belt, where they will soon meet a new purpose.

The concoction of chips, pretzels, popcorn, and more become food for cattle on the adjacent Herr Angus Farm.

Herdsman Dylan Beam says it's good for the cattle and the environment.

"I think the unique digestive system of the beef cow is kind of what makes all this make sense," he said. "And it's a valuable nutrient for the cattle."

But Herr's upcycles more than just waste from the chip line.

"We can take the water from the factory and irrigate the fields, which then feeds the cattle," said Beam. "And the manure from that then gets put back on the crop ground."

Herr's believes its sustainability practices are in keeping with its mission to support the local community.

"A lot of companies now are just kind of figuring out programs like this, but we've been doing this for decades," said Graziano. "And for many decades to come."

To learn more about Herr Foods, or to take a tour of the Herr's Snack Factory, visit their website.

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