Reducing Waste One Broccoli Stem at a Time
by Loree Dowse | April 2016
According to the USDA, food loss and waste in the United States accounts for approximately 31 percent—or 133 billion pounds–and is the single largest component of disposed solid waste, accounting for roughly 18% of U.S. methane emissions. In 2015, USDA and EPA launched the US Food Waste Challenge with the first-ever national food waste reduction goal, calling for a 50-percent reduction by 2030. The journey to zero waste may be far off, but there’s much we can do to help the process along.
Mann Packing has jumped on the waste reduction bandwagon with several new initiatives at our Fresh Leaf Farms (FLF) facilities. On July 1st, 2015 Fresh Leaf Farms Salinas launched its formal recycling program with the help of over 300 employees. Measure To Improve, a consulting firm that specializes in building sustainability programs for the produce industry, have helped to facilitate the program and train the employees. Each of the trainings included signage and color coding of recycling receptacles, the importance of individual responsibility, and environmental impact outside the workplace.
The results of the program are quite impressive. From July 2015 to March 2016 FLF Salinas has diverted:
- 2,955 tons of organic material (culls)
- 188.94 tons of recycling
- 175.02 tons of cardboard = app. 2,978 trees
- 18.59 tons of plastic = app. 18 two person homes
- Increased total diversion from 95.44% to 98.53%
On January 27th, 2016 FLF Yuma launched its formal recycling program, and since then has diverted:
- 1,125 tons of organic material (culls)
- Decreased materials sent to landfill by an average of 30.08 tons per month
- A total of 68.73 tons of material has been recycled
- Increased total diversion from 93.23% to 97.69%
Doing the Right Thing
Reducing waste has been a focus for Mann Packing for quite some time. Twenty-five years ago, now-CEO Lorri Koster was tasked with figuring out what to do with leftover broccoli stems. Not only was a much-beloved and lucrative product born – Mann’s Broccoli Cole Slaw – but many tons of organic material was put to very good use. And in 2013, we changed our veggie tray packaging to eliminate 1.4 million pounds of plastic going to landfills annually.
Good numbers, yes. But it doesn’t stop there. Sustainability continues to be a priority for Mann Packing, with efforts being evaluated regularly to identify new ways to reduce waste.
Happy Earth Day!
Food & Recycling Waste Tips
We can all do our part to help out with reducing the total waste that goes into our landfills. Here are some tips to help you cut down:
- Reduce, Recycle, Reuse: This goes without saying, but a good example of how you can do this is by using different containers for different types of waste. Make sure to get employee buy-in too!
- Buy Recycled Goods: Look for items that are 100% recycled to keep the recycling loop going.
- Recycle your Wastewater: At Mann’s facilities, wash water is reclaimed into industrial waste systems for use on golf courses and city landscaping, and 90% of our facilities’ waste water is recycled.
- “Float or Sink Test” for Eggs: Don’t throw your eggs out just because they are past the expiration date. They may still be good. If they sink, they’re fresh; if they float, they’re not good anymore.
- Save Wilted Veggies: Put them into ice water to crisp them up (try it with carrots, greens, broccoli, and more). If lettuce is a bit past its prime for use in a salad, you can always sauté it like you would any other green.
- Freeze Leftover Ingredients: You can chop up and store veggies in the freezer for later use and you can use leftovers in different menu items the next day.
- Use Sour Milk: Milk that turns sour can be used in recipes as a substitute for buttermilk.
- Store Food Properly in the Fridge: Store meats in lower in the fridge, where it’s coldest, and leave less temperature-sensitive items, like veggies and butter, higher up.
- Change Up the Menu: Minimize the quantity of leftovers by changing up the menu in order to use more of what you purchase.
- Make Smart Cuts: Train employees to be deliberate with their cuts so they don’t throw away usable product.