TIPS FROM THE EXPERT: GETTING TO ZERO WASTE

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by Christine Wied

Although the City of Ventura is doing a good job of keeping waste from our landfills through waste reduction and recycling efforts in compliance with State mandates, new legislation goes into effect July 1 that will increase the statewide goals to 75 percent diversion by 2020. Exciting efforts are being made locally to work toward that new statewide goal. Harrison Industries, the City’s franchised hauler, Agromin Premium Soil Products who processes yard waste collected in the City and the Albertson’s supermarket chain have joined forces in a pilot program that may all but eliminate food waste at the Ventura and Camarillo stores.

Previously food scraps from Albertson’s meat, produce, deli, dairy, bakery and floral departments ended up in the trash. Recently, Harrison delivered special barrels to all the departments at the Ventura store that employees will fill with everything from meat fat and bones to pineapple tops and corn husks. Same goes for liquid food waste like yogurt, cottage cheese and mayonnaise; bread and baked goods; and eggs and dairy products.

Albertson’s, however, will continue to donate recoverable food to feed the hungry through its Food Rescue program.

Three times a week, Harrison trucks will collect the food waste and deliver it to Agromin. Employing a Covered Aerated Static Pile System, Agromin will mix the food waste with yard waste that Harrison collects from residential and commercial customers to create an enriched compost and alternative fuel.  “This is an exciting thing to be part of,” said Agromin CEO Bill Camarillo, adding a potting mix produced under the Albertson’s label will soon be on the store shelves.

Rick Crandall, Director of Sustainability for Albertson’s Southern California/Nevada Region, related that the program is part of the supermarket chain’s goal to divert 90 percent of its waste from landfills by 2025. The Ventura Albertson’s store is the 110th out of 248 stores in the chain’s Southern California/Nevada region to begin such a program. “We firmly believe it’s the right thing for the environment and the right thing for business,” Crandall said.

Joe Ferrar, manager of the Ventura Albertson’s predicts that the program will go seamlessly. “All our employees are going to be involved.” Enthusiasm and the spirit of collaboration were evident at a recent training at the store attended by Albertson employees, Harrison, Agromin and City of Ventura Environmental Sustainability representatives.

For Harrison Industries, this program is another step in the company’s goal to reach “Zero Waste” according to their President Ralph Harrison. The City salutes Harrison Industries, Agromin Premium Soil Products and Albertson’s’ Supermarkets for stepping up to look for more ways to reduce waste and advance their sustainability efforts.  If the pilot program is successful, it is hoped that someday it will be able to expand to other commercial and perhaps residential applications.

Contact: Christine Wied, cwied@cityofventura.net

Open Line Article, May 2, 2012

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