When it comes to the food-service industry, waste can be a big problem. From fresh produce and other food items spoiling to using packaging that is not recyclable, businesses in this industry can produce not only a large amount of tangible waste, but can also leave a lot of money on the table by not taking part in more eco-friendly waste practices. Piazza Produce, LLC, a member of PRO*ACT, is one food service distributor that is tackling this issue head on. Started in 1970, Piazza Produce is a wholesale food distributor that offers produce, locally sourced goods, and specialty items to a 250-mile radius from the Indianapolis, Indiana area. The company focuses on providing exceptional quality, high food safety standards and strong customer service. They also are a certified as a Gold Level USGBC TRUE zero waste business and a Platinum Level Green Business Bureau member.
Through the USGBC TRUE zero waste program – which the company helped found – Piazza Produce is certified as a zero waste company and has been able to divert more than 90% of their waste from the landfill or incineration. In fact, Piazza Produce has been a zero waste company since 2012 and was the first food service produce distributor to achieve this milestone! The company’s mission to reduce waste started in 2005 when it was realized that 2,174.77 tons of waste was being generated from business operations. Leadership at the company decided that this amount of waste wasn’t ethical or efficient, so they began to look for new ways to reduce that number and to control their previous out-of-control waste expenditures. What they ended up with was a company-wide effort to reduce waste through recycling, source reduction, product reuse, food rescue and donation, and commercial composting efforts.
While Piazza Produce’s focus on cutting back on waste started with looking at the materials used for packing in the distribution center, the focus soon turned to looking for new ways to cut back on waste in other areas of the business. For example, Piazza Produce identified composting as an area where the company could focus and make a substantial difference. Starting with composting fruits and vegetables and slowly scaling up, the company’s commercial compost program has helped the business to reduce operating expenses. Comprehensive recycling efforts also resulted in increased recycling revenues and profitability. Zero Waste sustains your bottom line.
One of the most important lessons Piazza Produce learned through their eco-friendly programs is that making green changes requires the support of the entire organization. That’s why the company encourages every employee to get involved and be a member of what they call their “Green Team.” While not every company has the ability to transform their waste program the way Piazza Produce has, every industry and business offers opportunities to save money by making smart sustainability changes and involving their staff in positive ways, and can learn from the success Piazza Produce has found through focusing on it’s waste production.
“No waste hauler is going to proactively ask you if you want to “Go Green.” There is Ca$h in Your Tra$h,” said Scott D. Lutocka, ZWBA Facilities & Sustainability Manager Piazza Produce, LLC. “In order to go green or to achieve zero waste, you must be willing to challenge the status quo!”
To learn more about Piazza Produce, and their waste programs and sustainability awards, visit https://www.piazzaproduce.com.