Measure to Improve LLC (MTI), a sustainability consultancy for the agriculture industry, has guided two Monterey County, California-based producers in developing their zero waste programs. These programs have achieved the highest levels of TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) certification through Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI).
“Pursuing zero waste goals helped these companies do more than simply reduce the amount of waste that goes to the local landfill,” says MTI. “Taylor Farms and Ippolito International have both discovered financial savings by becoming more resource efficient, a win-win for the community and these companies.”
This week, Taylor Farms’ Gonzales-based facility became the first fresh food company to earn TRUE Platinum, the highest level of zero waste certification. Over the past 14 months, the facility decreased waste to landfill by 56 percent, which reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 30,923 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, roughly the same as taking 6,510 cars off the road annually.
“This is just the beginning,” said Nicole Flewell, director of sustainability at Taylor Farms. “We are striving for certification across all operations and are focused on enabling employees with the correct tools and training to help us meet this goal.”
In March 2018, Ippolito International became the first producer in Monterey County to achieve TRUE certification. With a combined diversion rate of nearly 94 percent, Ippolito’s value-added facility and Brussels sprouts packing facility each achieved Gold certification by recycling 590 tons of cardboard and plastic and diverting more than 10,000 tons of organic bi-product through animal feed and composting.
“Going for Gold wasn’t easy. It requires a culture change, commitment from leadership and participation from the employees,” said Ippolito partner Ron Mondo. “It was worth it; we’ve reduced our environmental impact and found ways to cut costs at the same time.”
Sustainability programs with a goal of zero waste set out to track, reduce and validate the amount of waste they avoid sending to the landfill and target a 90 percent or better diversion rate over 12 consecutive months. The TRUE Zero Waste certification system enables facilities to define, pursue and achieve their zero waste goals, cutting their carbon footprint and supporting public health.
“We want to congratulate Ippolito International and Taylor Farms, along with their respective Green Teams, for their persistence in reducing waste, finding alternative materials and increasing recycling,” said Nikki Rodoni, founder and CEO of MTI. “Achieving Zero Waste certification doesn’t happen overnight—more like a minimum of 12-18 months to earn certification—and now all the hard work has paid off!”
Zero waste efforts don’t stop with certification
Ippolito will not only continue its diversion efforts at the two certified facilities, but also will extend the zero waste program to its new packing shed and harvest operations. MTI will be supporting the company throughout this process.
Taylor Farms also is on its way to launching another zero waste program as part of its “Greener Fields Together Waste Reduction” pledge with Pro*Act.
MTI partners with the Pro*Act Greener Field Together team to encourage and educate producers and processors within the Pro*Act network on how to measure their waste diversion from landfill and improve their natural resource efficiency. Ippolito International and Taylor Farms are the first of ten companies that made a waste reduction pledge to achieve Zero Waste certification.
“The innovation bar has been raised,” said Henry S. Gonzales, Monterey County agricultural commissioner and sealer of weights and measures. “I am confident other value-added fresh food processors will see the environmental and bottom-line benefits of defining, pursuing and achieving TRUE Zero Waste certification.”