Environmental Action

Has a Role
to Play

Meeting our Climate Action Plan goals and promise to Enduring Ecosystems requires one ingredient: commitment. 2023 saw teams and individual employees alike take the initiative and build momentum toward our goals.

Rebuilding Vital Ecosystems with New Seasons Market

Collective action and investment are vital if we want to implement environmental solutions on farms and support farmers. This year we partnered with New Seasons Market — a Pacific Northwest-based grocer and fellow B Corp — to support real, on-the-ground environmental projects within our supply chains. “A lot of our farmers practice regenerative agriculture and want to expand it, but need our support,” says Jocelyn Bridson, TCCA Director of Environment and Community Impact. Along with funding from a USDA Conservation Innovation grant, both companies pitched in $15,000 to expand vital ecosystems around these farms.

In February, volunteers from TCCA and New Seasons Market came together in Tillamook to plant native, woody vegetation. “The project has multiple benefits including sequestering carbon and creating habitat for birds and other animals, while also providing shade to streams that protect the salmon there,” Jocelyn adds.

Habitat restoration in Tillamook County

Taking Care of Cows’ Business

We’re proud to announce that TCCA received a $4 million Regional Conservation Partnership Program grant to address an unavoidable fact of life on member farms: manure. Over the next five years, we’ll partner once again with New Seasons Market to undertake a massive manure management program with local dairy farms. Projects include capping storage tanks and building composting barns. This represents TCCA's first carbon-related partnership, providing verified methane emission reductions for New Seasons Market-bound products while also helping to keep the waterways around TCCA member farms clean. TCCA is committed to supporting the future of farming by investing in these types of on-farm solutions with the aid of public and private funding.

Goal Zero Team Gains Steam

Goal Zero stats

The Goal Zero team is an employee-led group that works to reduce water, energy and waste impacts at TCCA manufacturing facilities. Taking time to look critically at our resource use while maintaining a 24/7 production schedule is no small task, but the Goal Zero team is fortunate to have passionate employees on the front lines constantly looking for ways to improve. “They know their realm so much better than anyone else,” says Shannon Tivona, Environment and Community Impact Specialist. “We come up with so many more effective and long-term solutions by allowing employees to be creative.”

To keep track of all these solutions, the Goal Zero team created an “Opportunity Register” to measure the impact all these decisions have on our operations. To date, the group has completed over half of the 100 opportunities they identified. The estimated results since Goal Zero’s formation in 2022 are nothing short of inspiring.

A Huge Win for Water Reduction

Clean-in-Place (CIP) systems sanitize the equipment that makes our cheese and ice cream. Employees at our Boardman facility worked to optimize these systems to save time and resources without sacrificing food safety and quality. Manufacturing Sanitation Manager Daniel Hood looked at every step of the process within the CIP system to find efficiencies. “CIP cleaning requires time, temperature and chemical concentration. Through trials here and there to reduce time, I’ve been able to gradually shorten washes, which has led to big water savings.” His painstaking efforts paid off in a big way, and we’ll be rolling out his improvements to our other facilities in the coming months.

One Small Gain Yields Big Results

Cheesemaking in 2023 is a high-tech endeavor. The journey from milk to cheddar involves many steps, and one of the more energy-intensive steps is separating the liquid whey from the solid curds via evaporation. The curds go on to make our cheese, and we turn all that whey to powder for nutritional supplements and livestock feed. Each pound of whey powder requires evaporating 10 lbs of liquid whey.

At TCCA we kickstart the evaporation process with a reverse osmosis (RO) unit. This past year the cheese production team worked to increase the solids coming out of the more efficient RO unit before reaching the traditional evaporator. A seemingly small increase in solids production from the unit —13% to 15% — yielded an energy savings of 1.4M kWh/year. Building off that success, the team found an additional 900k kWh/year savings by reducing the amount of steam supplied to the unit. Together, this saved us $125k/year on our power bill. Increasing efficiencies on existing equipment, even in small numbers, adds up to big savings.

Vanpool Karaoke, Anyone?

Many employees in our Boardman facility are spread out among the surrounding towns. Some employees drive up to 1,000 miles each month getting to and from work. We partnered with Enterprise and launched an official vanpooling program to help employees reduce emissions during their commute by traveling together in a rented SUV or van.

We also partnered with Get There Oregon to help employees organize their own carpooling program. TCCA incentivizes the program via VIP parking spots for participants and awards for those who log the most miles in a carpool.