Last year, we shared with you some great news: that our family had earned the U.S. Green Building Council TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) Platinum certification at three of our facilities.
The TRUE certification program is an assessor-based zero waste program that rates how well facilities perform in minimizing their non-hazardous, solid wastes and maximizing their efficiency in the use of resources. We did a lot of research in evaluating zero waste certification programs and landed on the USGBC’s TRUE program because it is both rigorous and reputable. We are not talking marketing fluff, here.
We’re coming back to you again with news on the zero waste certification front. The next facility on our list to certify is the Earthbound Farm’s home facility in San Juan Bautista, California. It’s not the original facility, or even the second, but it’s where Earthbound Farm organic salads, fruits, and veggies have been washed and packaged since 1996. When we first moved in, it was just a 25,000 square foot facility. As the company grew, we added on to the facility and it’s now a whopping 400,000 square feet.
The definition of Zero Waste is comprehensive:
Zero waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.
Zero Waste International Alliance
This philosophy of resource recycling and holistic systems thinking is the foundation of organic farming. Applying that within the complex infrastructure of a production facility is an important next step. Which is not to say that we haven’t approached our processes with a mindset of minimizing our impact, but certification is a whole different level of commitment. This will not be an easy task and it will take us at least a year from our program kick-off in March of this year. Why does it take so long? Well, that’s where the rigorous standards come in.
- We’ll start with defining our opportunities and goals for zero waste, reducing our carbon footprint and supporting public health. This where our initial assessment which began in October 2020 comes in – including quantifying our output.
- Once we identify our opportunities, we’ll apply a systems approach to our processes – truly rethinking everything about how we do what we do in our facilities and redesigning resource life cycles to improve progress toward zero waste.
- We will then train every team member (almost 900) on our newly defined zero waste practices as it will take every team member to help make this program successful.
- Then we’ll be measuring and quantifying our output based on the redesigning of our processes. We must reach a 90% diversion rate for 12 consecutive months of operation before we can apply for certification. And we’ll continue to measure and quantify progress through the years.
- Here’s the formula for calculating our diversion rate.
Right about now, if you’re like so many of our friends, you’re wondering about how this jibes with all the plastic packaging we generate. We know that matters to you like it matters to us. We all have to figure out how to make food and other products without generating so much waste, right? All we can say at this moment is that we’re working hard on alternatives. In the meantime, our tubs and lids are made from post-consumer recycled beverage bottles and are recyclable in some areas. No new plastic is added to the planet’s plastic burden to make those packages…that’s a bit of progress. But we’re hard at work on something better. Stay tuned.
Our promise to you is that we’ll bring you along on the journey. You can expect to see periodic updates — the highs and the lows – as we work through our TRUE certification project.
TRUE is a registered trademark of GBCI®. To learn more about TRUE visit: https://true.gbci.org/