Waste Management collects organic material from Publix

Pictured at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Okeechobee Organics Recycling Facility are (l-r) Bob Shanz, Garick; Eric Myers, director of Organic Recycling Operations, Waste Management; Tim Hawkins, area vice president, Waste Management; Kim Brunson, Recycle and Solid Waste manager, Publix; Maria Borus, director of Media and Community Relations, Publix, and Bill Fauerbach, vice president, Retail Operations, Publix.

Waste Management trucks are collecting and transporting organic material from 40 Publix stores in Aventura, Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Doral, Hialeah, Kendall, Miami and Miami Lakes to a new Okeechobee Organics Recycling Facility, the most advanced aerated composting technology to process food residuals in South Florida.

The eight-acre facility, located adjacent to Waste Management’s Okeechobee Landfill, utilizes a forced aeration system with computer controls to regulate airflow and air treatment to process pre-consumer food waste from Publix stores — including produce, bakery and floral items — with yard waste into organic compost products.

“As the nation’s largest environmental solutions provider, our customers are asking us to help them meet their sustainability goals,” said Tim Hawkins, area vice president for Waste Management. “We’re very pleased to partner with Publix on the first dedicated organics composting site in South Florida to serve their needs.”

During the coming months, Publix plans to add additional stores in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to the program.

“Publix commends Waste Management on moving the industry forward with the opening of their Organics Recycling Facility in Okeechobee,” said Kim Jaeger, Publix’s Miami media and community relations manager. “Our partnership with Waste Management presents an opportunity in fulfilling our mission to be intolerant of waste by diverting food waste that would typically be sent to local landfills. Publix’s continued success depends upon sustaining our environment, our community and our business.”

The Okeechobee facility is permitted to accept up to 30,000 tons per year, including 15,000 tons of food waste and 15,000 tons of yard waste, and is part of Waste Management’s strategy to expand organics recycling in Florida and throughout North America.

Garick, a subsidiary of Waste Management and leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of organic lawn and garden products, is producing the lawn and garden products from the Okeechobee composting facility.

North America generates more than 80 million tons of organic waste each year. In the United States, approximately a third of municipal solid waste is organic, including food, yard and wood waste. Approximately 65 percent of yard waste and 2.5 percent of food wasted collected in the United States is currently diverted from disposal.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), converting waste into valuable raw materials through recycling creates jobs, builds more competitive manufacturing industries, and adds significantly to the U.S. economy.

“As one of the nation’s largest residential recycling services provider, we’re always focused on how to improve recycling rates in our communities so that we can extract more value from the materials we manage,” Hawkins added. “Recycling is easy, good for the environment and good for our local economy, and we encourage residents in South Florida that on America Recycles Day we think about recycling every day.”

Waste Management currently operates some 155 recycling facilities and processes approximately 10 million tons of recyclables per year. The company is now halfway to its goal of managing more than 20 million tons each year. In 2010, Waste Management recycled, reused, or managed enough material to fill a football field 2.11 miles high.

To learn more information about Waste Management visit online at www.wm.com or www.thinkgreen.com.

For information about Publix, visit the company’s website at www.publix.com.

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