Earthbound Farm gets packaging award

San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based Earthbound Farm won a 2012 Responsible Packaging Award for eliminating the virgin polyvinyl chloride shrinkband on its 5-ounce clamshell.

Earthbound was one of seven companies honored by the Portland, Ore.-based Sustainable Food Trade Association on May 20, communication director Samantha Cabaluna said.

Transitioning to the new self-zip clamshell has eliminated more than 1 million pounds of PVC annually, Cabaluna said.

The material releases chemicals and is not recyclable, she said. 

She said Earthbound has all its plastic packing material tested at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo to ensure it’s made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic and is food safe.

Frieda’s cuts waste by giving to food bank

Frieda’s Inc., Los Alamitos, Calif., is working on a number of initiatives to become as green and sustainable as possible.

Communications coordinator Alex Jackson said the specialty produce company is working toward zero waste by donating unused produce to the local food bank.

Also, Frieda’s finance department operates a paperless system for invoicing and new customers. Orders are loaded and shipped via recycled pallets.

The company offers employees staggered work hours and the option of telecommuting to help ease traffic congestion.

Gills Onions adds rechargable fuel cell

On July 11, Oxnard, Calif.-based onion processor Gills Onions is throwing a party for its newest addition, the world’s largest flow battery.

The rechargable fuel cell, built by Prudent Energy in Bethesda, Md., consists of three 200 kilowatt modules. They’re programmed to charge up overnight, when energy rates are at their lowest, and discharge during the day when rates and demand at Gills’ processing facility are at their height, sustainability director Nikki Rodoni said.

The battery, enclosed in its own 4,500-square-foot building, is the next phase of Gills’ energy recovery system, which turns onion waste into biogas.

The liquid part of the onion waste, 75%, is used to create energy, Rodoni said, and the remaining 25% is sold as high-value cattle feed.

Grimmway Farms to add solar capacity

Working toward a greener tomorrow is the goal at Bakersfield, Calif.-based Grimmway Farms, said Bob Borda, vice president of marketing.

In the next year, Borda said, the carrot grower and processor plans to expand the solar footprint in three of its facilities to produce a combined 5.5 million kilowatt hours of energy a year.

He said Grimmway continues to upgrade its equipment to become more fuel efficient and reduce its carbon footprint.

The company also plans to implement a zero-waste program throughout its Cal Organic operation.

Mann Packing cuts waste, harvest times

After farming in California’s Salinas Valley for more than a century, Salinas-based Mann Packing Inc. is an expert at maximizing crop yields and limiting waste, said Elena Hernandez, marketing and communication specialist.

A customized harvester creates lower emissions and faster harvest times, Hernandez said, while crop rotation and trimming and thinning by hand rather than with chemicals lead to healthier soil and plants.

Mann’s Broccoli Slaw includes usable parts of the stalk, she said, and Romaine Leaf Singles are convenient and use portions of the head that were once discarded.

Unused vegetable trimmings are fed to dairy cattle.

Ocean Mist Farms uses energy-efficient motors

Saving energy, reducing waste and preventing pollution are priorities at Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist Farms.

LED lighting in all facilities and energy-efficient variable speed motors placed on refrigeration fans, condensers, farm sump pumps and irrigation booster pumps have saved 150 tons of carbon dioxide a year, said Kori Tuggle, director of marketing and business development.

By conserving fuel, replacing old equipment and servicing equipment regularly, the vegetable grower-shipper reports fuel savings equivalent to removing 1,033 passenger cars from the road each year.

To date, Ocean Mist has also diverted 46.2 tons of waste materials to recycling and recycled enough water to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool, Tuggle said.

Pear Bureau Northwest uses ecofriendly paper

Milwaukie, Ore.-based Pear Bureau Northwest has found a new way to “green” its point-of-sale materials.

Communications director Cristie Mather said the bureau keeps a large inventory of POS materials for retailers to help engage and educate their shoppers about pears.

“In the past, we printed many of our materials on plastic or synthetic paper so they would be more durable,” said Mather.

“We now work with our printers to use more eco-friendly recycled cardstock, which is durable but also recyclable and biodegradable.”