Mar 17, 2023
EFI waste reduction program shows CO2 emission reductions

Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) and sustainability consultancy Measure to Improve have successfully concluded a program to reduce emissions in the produce industry.

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. EFI hopes the results provide an example to be learned from and replicated throughout the industry, according to a news release.

Measure to Improve, a leading sustainability consultant in the fresh produce industry, worked closely with EFI, a workforce development and certification organization, and with 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 participating farms, local waste management representatives, and local officials. Notable attendees included representatives from the California Workforce Development Board, Santa Barbara County Supervisor and a Santa Maria councilman Carlos Escobedo.

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 participating farms saw impressive reductions in amounts and types of waste and implemented revenue-positive recycling efforts. Initial results presented at the March 8 event highlighted that 144 tons of waste material were diverted from the landfill and 435 metric tons of carbon dioxide were saved, according to the release.

“The program has the potential to have a major effect on greenhouse gas reductions throughout the fresh produce industry,” Lilian Autler, EFI’s organizational and workforce development manager, said in the release. “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.”

“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,” Kieran Ficken, Measure to Improve’s director of sustainability programs, said in the release. “We are incredibly pleased with the results and are looking forward to sharing a full case study soon.”




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