City of Oxnard’s New Commercial Food Waste Recycling Pilot Program showing tons of success
According to California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), Californians throw away nearly 6 million tons of food each year. The City of Oxnard’s Environmental Resources Division is teaming up with Whole Foods and St. John’s Hospital to address this issue on the local level with a new commercial food waste recycling pilot program. In just one month, the program is showing tons of success: Whole Foods and St. John’s Regional Medical Center have already diverted more than 20 tons of food waste from local landfills.
Program basics– Staff members from each company received on-site training by City of Oxnard staff; topics included logistical considerations, the importance of separating food waste from other materials and the use of specially designated 64 gallon containers. Now that the pilot program is up and running, the City collects food waste from each business three times a week. The food waste is processed with other organic materials (grass clippings, leaves and tree trimmings) to make a valuable resource: a high quality compost for area growers and landscapers. The food waste is received by Agromin, where the City is already delivering green waste.
“Up until a few years ago, food waste usually ended up in a landfill,” says Bill Camarillo, Agromin CEO. “With new technology and strong commitments from businesses and cities such as Whole Foods, St. John’s and Oxnard, food waste is now being seen as an excellent source to create compost and biofuel. Anytime we can turn waste into something useful is a win for our community and the environment.”
According to John Bennett, the associate general manager at the Whole Foods in Oxnard, “initial results overwhelming exceeded expectations. In just the first week, approximately 4 tons of food waste were collected for processing into compost”. Cindy Schoonmaker, Marketing & Community Outreach for Whole Foods further added, “Whole Foods Market is so excited to play a part in this opportunity with the City of Oxnard and Agromin. It’s a perfect example of one of our core values: We practice and advance Environmental Stewardship. Whole Foods Market sees the necessity of active environmental stewardship so that the earth continues to flourish for generations to come”.
“St. John’s is very happy to be a part of the City’s new food waste pilot program. We are committed to serving the community, including doing our part toward a sustainable future,” stated Laurie Eberst, Senior Vice President of Operations for Dignity Health Southern California West, and president and CEO of St. John’s Regional Medical Center. “The food waste program is a valuable addition to St. John’s Ecology Program, and fulfills our commitment to protect and preserve the environment and maintain the good health of the residents in our community,” said Eberst.
“Composting food waste turns a formerly-discarded material into a valuable resource and extends the life of our landfills” says Todd Housley, Environmental Resources Superintendent for the City of Oxnard. “It will help us move toward our zero waste goals and a more sustainable future.”
“We are hoping that this pilot program with Whole Foods and St. John’s Regional Medical Center will set the standard to serve as a model for future commercial food waste and recycling efforts,” says Housley.