Transportation Sustainability

April 23, 2010

The last breakout session of the Global Conference for Produce Sustainability featured speakers from three produce shippers – Sysco, CH Robinson and OK Produce. Each approach sustainability a little differently, but the end result is eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and reducing costs.

Brady Matoian from OK Produce had an interesting story to tell. He”s the CEO of the company now, but he”s third generation and before he came on the business was conservative and risk-averse. But Brady, who calls himself a hippie, wanted to clean up and green the company. In 2002, a solar roof was installed that generates 238 kWp and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1,800 tons over 30 years. The company had never recycled, either, but with Brady”s leadership has reduced the amount of garbage sent to landfills by 94 percent. He”s also upgraded vehicles. The sales fleet is made up of seven Toyota Prius hybrid cars and in 2006 he bought 12 new tractors that improved mileage by switching to automatic transmissions and have good aerodynamics. The company also just received a grant that will allow it to purchase 14 new tractors – Volvos that get up to 7 mpg.

Matoian said the sustainable initiatives weren”t essential to the company, but they”re now part of its DNA and everyone is involved. The takeaway message from many of the sustainability presentations is that companies need leaders that value sustainability and pass that enthusiasm on to employees.

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