Raul Torres works on the Gonzales plant’s zero-waste efforts.
GONZALES — Taylor Farms reached a milestone June 19 when the company was announced as the first fresh-food industry to achieve a TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) Platinum certification for zero waste.
TRUE-certified spaces are environmentally responsible as well as more resource efficient and aid turning waste into savings and additional income streams.
"Taylor Farms recognizes that by pursuing zero waste they are helping us build a sustainable future for all," said President and CEO of U.S. Green Building Council Mahesh Ramanujam in a news release. "Waste impacts all facets of business and changing the way we use resources will deliver public health benefits, reduce our environmental impact and advance a greener economy."
The Zero Waste Program was launched in April 2017 at Taylor Farms Facility in Gonzales and has decreased landfill contribution by 56 percent, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30,923 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent — similar to taking 6,510 cars off the road annually.
Nicole Flewell, director of sustainability at Taylor Farms, said, "We are very honored to receive the highest level of recognition through the TRUE certification program for our Gonzales facility. We're striving for certification across all operations at Taylor Farms and are focused on enabling employees with the correct tools and training to help us meet this goal."
Along with the zero waste efforts, the Gonzales facility is taking advantage of renewable and alternative energy resources to help meet the company's sustainability goals. The wind turbine, solar panels and cogeneration systems are generating 4.2 MW of energy, a 90 percent energy offset, used to run the 192,000-square-foot fresh processing plant.
Flewell spearheaded the Gonzales Green Team, which saw employees working together to reduce incoming materials, reusing existing materials when possible and recycling what remained throughout the facility in 14 months. The Gonzales Green Team is made up of managers from departments across the facility, including production, receiving, shipping, facilities, sanitation, purchasing and quality assurance, and was led by Director of Operations Sam Chaidez.
A goal of the Zero Waste Program was to eliminate wax cartons from the supply chain, which the Raw Product Procurement team completed by working with Taylor Farms' growing partners and made the move to 100 percent reusable bins and totes.
Taylor Farms also partnered with Measure to Improve, which provided onsite support, training and data tracking.