Iowa-based West Liberty Foods says it has received certification from an outside source verifying their Mount Pleasant plant is 100-percent landfill free when it comes to the waste material. West Liberty Foods C.E.O., Ed Garrett says they set a goal of reducing the waste they produce and then sent a team to the landfill to find out how they could improve.
“And they started digging through what we were sending out there to find out were we A, doing a good job recycling what we were already trying to do — and was there some other means where we could change the wastestream of the other products we weren’t recycling So they actually went out there and they sorted a trash truck,” Garrett explains. That sorting led to efforts to increase the recycling.
“We were recycling, but really just weren’t catching it all,” he says. Garrett says their suppliers and vendors then started
to take some of the material to recycle it, and they looked for other uses for the material that was still left over. The material in Mt. Pleasant that can’t be reused is turned into electricity by another local company.
“It goes to a concrete company that burns it and then runs their equipment. Instead of burning coal, they’ve now gone to burning our trash, and then the ash that comes from out trash they mix right into their concrete,” Garrett says. Garrett says they’ve been able to divert two million pounds of waste from the landfill just at the Mt. Pleasant plant and 5.5 million pounds when combined with waste diverted at their plant in Utah.
He says they haven’t figured how much it has cost to make the change, as there are different balances, such as reducing the fees charged at the landfill. “You got some higher cost because maybe you are transporting it a little bit farther to be reused. Our team members have actually looked at the way they bring in their lunches and so they’re not throwing as much away, so you don’t have as much to handle. So there’s been some very good cost offsets to what costs may have happened to get this done, but to a degree, we have not seen any major cost increases whatsoever,” according to Garrett.
West Liberty Foods officials say they are among the first companies in the U.S. to achieve the 100% landfill free status. The Mt. Pleasant plant employs around 550 people.