Landfill Free: Big Talk or a Realistic Solution?

Just what does it mean to be “landfill-free”? This appears to be a new “buzz term” among large food producers as they seek to boost their eco-street credibility in an increasingly green-minded consumer marketplace. Our BerryBreeze™ team recently sat down to discuss what each of us were most passionate about when it comes to providing a product that contributes to creating a better world, and at the top of our list was the issue of landfills. We want to see less stuff to put in them, thereby making less of them, so our attention was peaked when we read that NSF International was going to be conducting an independent study on some huge companies that operate internationally like General Motors and MillerCoors.

So what does “landfill-free” really mean? According to the parameters of the study, developed and supported through a partnership between NSF and Sustainable Waste Solutions, and this means that less than one percent of their process waste, including manufacturing refuse, incoming packaging, office paper and food waste, is being sent to landfill for disposal. Verification is determined by participating businesses doing the following:

  • Retaining documentation and track all the waste streams
  • Maintaining waste containers
  • Establishing a specific program for electronic waste management
  • Training employees (and contractors) on the procedures
  • Agreeing to audits of the facility

So far, West Liberty Foods, an Iowa meat processing company with three facilities, is the only company to have earned an official “landfill-free” designation. According to the General Motors website, 85 of their manufacturing sites and 20 of their non-manufacturing sites are already there (they operate 105 facilities worldwide).

Why would it be such a good thing to reduce landfills worldwide? Not only do they take up space that could be designated for any number of productive uses, but they represent the third largest producers of methane as the waste decomposes. Methane, or CH4, is 21 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide!

This is what we mean when we talk about wasting less food and reducing carbon footprints. This issue relates to our available drinking water, our oil consumption, and ultimately our pocketbooks. According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) there’s all sorts of great ways for individuals and households to reduce food waste, but what  NSF and Sustainable Waste Solutions are creating is an audacious effort to begin bringing some of the world’s largest corporations on board. It’s also exactly the kind of large-scale paradigm shift that saving the planet will require. In that sense, we applaud this large-scale effort by companies to take responsibility for the amount of pollution they incur on our environment. The only question left is whether this sort of completely private-sector solution is effective enough to get the majority of international businesses to change their practices and become landfill-free. Or should state and even the Federal government have a hand in moving American companies towards adopting these practices?

What do you think about General Motors and MillerCoors efforts to become landfill free?  Do you think this a good start or market solution that may not go far enough? Leave a comment below!