On the Green Pursuit
August 28, 2019
At OSI we want to be more than a green company, and seek to ensure that our responsibilities go beyond our facilities into our supply chain and generate positive impacts for both our people and the environment. This goal takes intention and careful planning from the onset. Pursuing sustainability and environmental efficiencies means taking into account location, construction, purchases, operation and the drive for continuous improvement. OSI’s facility in Riverside, California demonstrates how these principles can be put into action and what it means to be on a green pursuit for sustainability.
The Riverside plant has been recognized several times for its efficiency and green operations. In 2014, the Riverside plant received the Outstanding Waste Reduction Award by the City of Riverside Public Works Department and the Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce. Those same organizations awarded the plant the following year in 2015 for its sustainable design and innovation. And the plant officially received its certification as a green business by the city in 2016. Now, the OSI Riverside plant has the opportunity to win another award, this one by popular vote. The plant has been nominated for Food Processing’s Green Plant of the Year Award.
Polls are open now and the voting continues until September 1, 2019.
Much of the recognition this OSI plant has received is due to the design and innovation that allows the continuous environmental improvements to start from strong roots. The facility opened in 2014, when it began processing vegetables and fresh salsa. Since then, the plant has continued to lead OSI North America in sustainable manufacturing initiatives, with its certified green status and ongoing environmental audits and improvements.
These awards recognize OSI Riverside’s actions toward protecting the environment both in the facility and supply chains. J.D. Franklin, plant manager for OSI Riverside, spoke about the leadership commitment necessary for driving these initiatives.
“Our green initiatives are what help set us apart from others in our industry,” said Franklin.
These initiatives at the plant speak directly to the criteria currently being analyzed by voters for Food Processing’s Green Plant of the Year Award.
OSI RIVERSIDE’S GREEN DESIGN FOR OPERATIONS AND ENERGY EFFICIENCIES
It is one thing to take a green design of a plant and make it operational. It is another thing to continually monitor the plant’s operations to ensure that the plant is running as efficiently and cleanly as possible. For Riverside, unlocking energy benefits and savings has powered the pursuit for continuous environmental improvement.
As one example of the interconnection between design and continuous improvement, the OSI Riverside plant prioritizes natural lighting throughout the facility. But even in their lighting decisions, the OSI Riverside plant uses high-efficiency T-8 lighting systems and LED bulbs to achieve energy and efficiency results that benefit both the business and the environment.
Another key to this energy saving success has been premium efficiency motors and variable frequency drives (VFDs). VFDs are electric motors that are able to determine the energy output needed to perform each application and allows adjustments to the output of the motor accordingly. Being able to fine-tune how much energy is actually needed for each process, greatly reduces the amount of wasted energy that could happen when using regular motors.
The OSI Riverside plant’s electricity and gas usage are also closely monitored through state-of-the art control panels, which has helped the plant achieve year over year gas and electric efficiencies. The plant’s high-efficiency boilers and hot water heating systems, along with increased insulation and optimized refrigeration systems, keep the plant running while still saving energy.
ZERO WASTE TO LANDFILL
An important part of waste management is balancing diversion from landfill with other negative sustainability impacts like distance to haul waste and associated GHG emissions. According to Zero Waste International Alliance, zero waste to landfill can be defined as “the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.” OSI Riverside has been committed to waste reduction from the start by including recycled construction materials in its facility design and holding zero waste to landfill status with complete diversion since beginning operations in 2014. It was a recipient of an Outstanding Waste Reduction Award in from the city government in 2015.
Reducing waste is important for all industries, but food manufacturers especially want to create the most value from their raw material inputs. Food production needs to increase dramatically over the next few decades as the population is expected to grow to almost 10 million in 2050 and any input whether vegetable, packaging, water or energy is treated as scarce and maximized to its full potential. To unlock this potential, the company has worked with local partners to identify the best possible destination for materials that can no longer be used in operations including recycling, material reuse, closed-loop solutions, waste minimization and energy creation.
Throughout this initiative, OSI has realized other benefits to achieving zero waste to landfill beyond just being good stewards of the environment. There has been and continues to be significant monetary savings in directing waste away from landfills and into alternate channels. This initiative has also created clear alignment among OSI’s other facilities on environmental objectives and opened channels of communication to support similar projects in the future.
ENSURING WATER QUALITY AND CONSERVATION
According to the BBC, water demand globally is projected to increase by 55 percent between 2000 and 2050, with areas like those in California already labeled by WWF as having high water risk for scarcity, flooding, quality and ecosystem service status. This, combined with the demands of other water consumers, is turning water conservation from an important need to an urgent need.
OSI has taken great strides in water conversation, and the OSI Riverside plant is a prime example. The plant employs closed loop process water systems, including self-contained hand wash stations that are designed to preserve the quantity and quality of water. Additionally, the facility utilizes a wastewater pre-treatment system and wastewater reduction plan.
It has already eliminated two thirds of the area’s water intensive landscaping and replaced it with water-wise plants. These initiatives have helped the facility consistently achieve year over year water efficiency targets.
PROVIDING OPTIMUM AIR QUALITY
While the world’s natural resources are predicted to become more and more strained as the planet’s population continues to increase, there is one resource that connects healthy people and a healthy environment: air.
The designers of the OSI Riverside plant know this and wanted to ensure that the latest in air compression technology would be utilized at the plant to gain all of the green benefits that come from using one of earth’s most abundant natural, clean resources. The OSI Riverside plant uses a highly efficient compressed air system with air dryers that combat moisture, oil and particulates to ensure a reliable supply of clean, dry air.
ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUSNESS CULTURE
It is one thing for a plant to be designed and managed for environmental impact and sustainability, but it is a different thing to ensure that the plant’s operations are being run by people that are also environmentally conscious and sustainability driven, so the company runs programs and initiatives with its employees to promote an environmentally conscious culture.
The plant promotes its rideshare program to employees, encouraging participation in carpools as well as the utilization of public transportation. The plant and its employees are active in the local adopt-a-street program and was a recipient of the 2015 Riverside Chamber of Commerce Beautification Award. OSI Riverside has also received recognition as a Los Angeles Regional Food Bank Top 50 Donor.
RECOGNITION FOR OSI RIVERSIDE AS GREEN PLANT OF THE YEAR
At the OSI Riverside plant, the love of sustainability comes through with the design and daily operations of the plant, not necessarily the awards the company and plant have received for its green activities. But that shouldn’t mean that it does not feel good to be recognized for all the hard work. OSI has devoted itself to the pursuit of being a green company, and is proud to have been nominated for the Food Processing’s Green Plant of the Year Award reminding people at the plant that their hard work and dedication is being recognized and, therefore, might inspire others to follow their lead.