Waste reduction program demonstrates impressive CO2 emission reductions for produce industry
WASHINGTON – Equitable Food Initiative BB #:385632 and Measure to Improve, announced the successful completion of the two-year Produce & Reduce pilot program which was implemented on three farming operations and funded by the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB). The group reported reductions of CO2 emissions during the pilot equivalent of 1 million miles driven by an average gasoline-powered vehicle and hopes this provides an example to be learned from and replicated throughout the industry.
Measure to Improve, a leading sustainability consultant in the fresh produce industry, worked closely with EFI, a workforce development and certification organization and the farming operations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by implementing new waste reduction efforts. The three participating EFI-certified operations, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce/GoodFarms, Misionero, and Windset Farms each created a Green Team to assess current levels of waste, identify areas for improvement, and implement training, education and other efforts to increase waste diversion from landfill.
On March 8, EFI and Measure to Improve hosted a collaborative roundtable of 50 attendees, including workers and managers from the three participating farms, local waste management representatives, and local officials. Notable attendees included Rafael Aguilera on behalf of the California Workforce Development Board, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino and Santa Maria Councilman Carlos Escobedo. Video remarks were also made from CA State Senator Monique Limón. The roundtable event celebrated the conclusion of the grant and pilot program, highlighted final project findings, and featured a discussion on ways to promote environmental sustainability in the fresh produce industry based on project learnings, best practices and on-farm experiences.
Each of the three participating farms saw impressive reductions in amounts and types of waste and implemented revenue-positive recycling efforts. Initial results presented at the March 8event highlighted that 144 tons of waste material were diverted from the landfill and 435 metric tons of carbon dioxide were saved.
“The program has the potential to have a major effect on greenhouse gas reductions throughout the fresh produce industry,” said Lilian Autler, organizational and workforce development manager for EFI. “We would not have seen this level of success without having the support of Measure to Improve, the participating farming operations, partners, and local and state government. EFI has always been a catalyst in bringing people together and this project is more proof that greater success is had when everyone has a seat at the table,” she concluded.
“This program showed that sustainability efforts are most effective when a holistic approach is taken, when management is committed, and when workers at all levels know and understand the environmental impact of their actions,” remarked Kieran Ficken, director of sustainability programs for Measure to Improve. “We are incredibly pleased with the results and are looking forward to sharing a full case study soon,” she added.
Equitable Food Initiative is a nonprofit certification and skill-building organization that seeks to increase transparency in the food supply chain and improve the lives of farmworkers through a team-based approach to training and continuous improvement practices. EFI brings together growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumers to solve the most pressing issues facing the fresh produce industry. Its unparalleled approach sets standards for labor practices, food safety and pest management while engaging workers at all levels on the farm to produce Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured fruits and vegetables. For more information about Equitable Food Initiative, visit equitablefood.org.
View a list of EFI-certified farms at equitablefood.org/farms.
About Measure to Improve
Measure to Improve, was founded in 2014 by Nikki Cossio. Today, MTI has a dedicated staff with a proven track record of helping companies identify and implement strategies to increase resource efficiency, validate results, and communicate sustainability efforts. Measure to Improve, LLC (MTI) offers the fresh produce industry comprehensive solutions for all sustainability needs. The company specializes in helping clients take a proactive approach to sustainability throughout their operations strengthening brand marketability, revealing cost savings and mitigating risk.
Learn more about Measure to Improve at measuretoimprove.com.