Cargill said Monday it had sold greenhouse gas emission offsets related to its beef-processing plant in the Canadian province of Alberta, marking the first time the grain company has sold the environmental credits.

Cargill said it registered and sold 400,000 tonnes of verified emission offsets through the Canadian Standards Association. Buying emissions is a way large greenhouse gas emitters can meet requirements under Alberta regulations.

The offsets are based on reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the wastewater treatment system of Cargill's plant in High River, Alberta. The treatment system is using 25 percent less natural gas because of measures to capture methane from the plant's wastewater lagoons and use it as fuel.

The company plans to continue selling emission offsets from the plant, which have earned it the sale proceeds as well as fuel savings, said Cargill spokeswoman Rebecca Hayne.

A lot of this is also coming from our customers, she said. The large customers we work with are very interested in having suppliers that are working on sustainability issues. This is a big one -- greenhouse gas emissions.

Cargill did not release the value of the sale or the names of the buyers.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel; Editing by Walter Bagley)