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Environmental sustainability a priority at Community-Suffolk

Tommy Piazza, clerk of corporation for Community-Suffolk Inc.

Tommy Piazza, clerk of corporation for Community-Suffolk Inc., located on the Boston Market Terminal in Everett, MA, told The Produce News that those at the terminal market are thinking green and finding ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

“There is a tremendous amount of waste in moving fresh produce,” said Mr. Piazza. “In wood alone, there are pallets, lettuce crates and other packing materials, all of which are typically put into dumpsters and hauled away. The truck that does the hauling uses fossil fuels, tears up roads and they charge a lot of money for their trash services.”

The Boston Market Terminal, under the direction of its manager, Dana Hayes, oversaw the installation of a wood shredder at the market to eliminate the wood-waste problem.

Mr. Piazza said that the shredder is put to increasingly more use each year as pallets are put together in cheaper and consequently less-reusable ways. The shredded wood now is put to productive use rather than contributing to landfills.

“Some companies are grinding the shredded wood up even more, coloring it and using it for landscaping,” he said. “Others use it has is as a fuel to heat local greenhouses. Regardless of how it’s reused, anything is better than having the wood contribute to a landfill situation today.”

The market currently is looking into alternatives for its produce waste. Mr. Piazza said that a company recently presented a demonstration at the market for a compost machine that can turn solid produce into dirt in a matter of days. If this were to become a reality for the market, it could be a huge benefit for local farmers and landscapers.

A more recent recycling initiative was started at the market about a year ago. Mr. Piazza said that if companies on the market can separate vegetable matter from plastics, cardboard and metal materials, a local company would take the raw materials, separate them further and recycle them.

“This too reduces our dumpster use and related expenses — not to mention reducing our carbon footprint,” he said.

Community-Suffolk also is trying to stay ahead of the environmental curve on its own in every possible way.

“Sustainability initiatives are left pretty much to individuals today,” Mr. Piazza said, “but that’s going to change in the future. Eventually, monitoring for environmental abuses by outside agencies will be a part of daily life. Besides preparing for what’s coming, it is just a practical and ethical decision to do things in ways that benefit the environment and reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills.”

Community-Suffolk is a full-line hardware vegetable house. Its line includes year-round supplies of celery, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, onions, limes, lemons, radishes, garlic, apples, iceberg lettuce, salad savoy and leaf vegetables. The company’s citrus division is based on a developed partnership with Sunkist, and it also labels oranges under its “MF” brand.

“We support local growers,” said Mr. Piazza. “And we support the Boston Food Bank. If the organization needs a dock, we’ll do what we can to help them out and we donate product to them whenever we can. It’s all a part of giving back wherever and whenever possible.”