Waste Not
Fetzer Becomes First Winery to Receive Platinum Zero Waste Certification

Mendocino County-based Fetzer Vineyards recently announced that it has received platinum level Zero Waste certification from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC). Platinum certification, the highest level offered by the USZWBC, recognizes the company for successfully diverting 97.7 percent of its waste from landfill, incineration and the environment.

“Our certification program holds to the highest standards and is one of the toughest in the country, so reaching the platinum level is a great accomplishment,” said Stephanie Barger, founder and executive director of USZWBC. “Fetzer Vineyards has been a longtime partner of the Zero Waste movement. Recognizing and documenting Fetzer’s achievements beyond recycling to reduce, retrain and redesign systems increases its bottom-line and motivates other companies to take the next step.”

“We are honored to be the first wine company to achieve Zero Waste certification,” said Fetzer’s sustainability manager Josh Prigge. “This achievement reinforces that companies can work to create a closed-loop system that is both profitable and sustainable.”

The goal of businesses participating in the USZWBC Zero Waste Certification program is to drive their programs beyond recycling to Zero Waste analysis, leadership, purchasing and total participation. The goal of Zero Waste is to divert all end-use material from landfill, incineration and the environment, while achieving a minimum of 90 percent diversion based on the standards set by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA). Fetzer is exceeding this by 7.7 percent.

Here are Fetzer’s environmental achievements to date:

  • Diverted 97.7 percent of all waste from landfills and incineration in 2013 through recycling, reusing, and composting used materials
  • Diverted approximately 2,807 tons of total waste from landfill in 2013, equal to the weight of about 1,400 cars
  • Exceeded the California State Mandate of 75 percent diversion (AB341) by 2017
  • Reduced annual waste sent to the landfill by more than 96 percent since 1990
  • Composted 3.6 million pounds of grape skins, stems, and seeds in 2013, which is then reintroduced into its vineyards as fertilizer
  • Became the first winery in California to operate on 100 percent renewable energy in 1999
  • Saved more than $388,000 per year in disposal costs and including revenue for recycling

Speaking of zero-waste wine production, in June 2013 the University of California Davis celebrated the opening of the Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building, which was designed to not only be zero-waste but completely self-sustaining. Made possible by a $3 million pledge from the late Jackson Family Wines founder Jess Jackson and his wife, Barbara Banke, the $4 million structure — when fully operational — will enable the adjacent teaching and research winery, brewery and food-processing facility to operate self-sustainably through onsite capture of energy and water. The 8,500-square-foot building will also house equipment and systems for capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide from wine fermentation, and for filtering and recirculating water for wine, beer and food processing. It is expected to be the first building at any university to be certified Net Zero Energy under the Living Building Challenge and only the second such building in California.

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