Stakeholders such as our customers, government and non-government agencies, academia, and investors want to know if the company is performing in a sustainable manner. In addition to sustainability our own staff members, senior management and employees who interact regularly with these stakeholder groups are asked to answer some of their most commonly asked questions pertaining to our company’s social progress (e.g., labor practices, employee health and safety, community support), environmental protection and resource conservation efforts (e.g., water use, waste management and recycling, greenhouse gas emissions), and economic growth (e.g., supply chain engagement, direct and indirect economic value generated). The 1990 Farm Bill defined Sustainable Agriculture as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term: satisfy human food and fiber needs; enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends; make the most use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources, and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and enhance the quality of life for farmers and ranchers, and society as a whole." We at Vita-Pakt hold with the utmost respect our responsibilities for land stewardship, and sustainable processing and farming as we strive to support a sustainable world.
Human & Workplace Rights
Freedom of Association & Collective Bargaining
Prohibition Child Labor, Forced Labor & Abuse of Labor
Fair Work Hours & Wages
Safe & Healthy Workplace Program
Community & Traditional Rights Preserved and Protected
Water Management Program
Energy Management Program
Environmental Protection Program
Conservation of Natural Resource Program
Soil Management Program
Integrated Pest Management Program
Harvest & Post-harvest Handling Program
Crop Management Program (Traceability)
Management Transparency Program
Business Ethics Program
California Transparency in Supply Chains Act Statement
Vita-Pakt Citrus Products Company Statement of Compliance with California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (SB 657 – Chapter 556)
The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010, Civil Code Section 1714.43, also known as Senate Bill 657 (SB 657) (“Act”) became effective January 1 2012 in the State of California. The Act requires that manufacturing companies, among others, doing business in California for tangible goods offered for sale, to disclose their efforts to eliminate slavery and human trafficking from their direct supply chains.
We at Vita-Pakt Citrus Products fully support California's efforts to protect human rights and enforce ethical labor practices. Vita-Pakt has adopted and maintained a Supplier Vendor Approval Program which includes a Code of Conduct which requires that our direct suppliers ensure they do not engage in or support forced labor or unlawful child labor as per the regulation requirements. Additionally our suppliers must be in full compliance and maintain the terms of employment for their employees that comply with regional and local law and work within the ethical boundaries and requirements of human respect and decency.
Currently we are engaged with third party audits for Sustainability Elements, which does include many of those with in the Supply Chains Act, and requires us not to do business with vendors or suppliers, whom we have knowledge of, engage in human rights violations, including but not limited to the use of child labor, forced labor, slavery or discrimination.
As a company farming and processing in the State of California, we are privileged to have one of the finest work forces in the world with no other equal. By us operating in a State whose worker rights and safety laws that are among the most stringent and restrictive in the world that compliance to human rights are almost unquestionable. We, as members of the State of California, are assured fair compensation and protections for our workers. Our employees have robust and rigorous training program on worker safety, including but not limited to the general safety and the proper usage of equipment including handling and operation; proper and safe chemical handling and application training, as well as the more specific such as firefighting and heat stress awareness to protect against heat related injuries.
One of the most important commodities in the world is water, and for any processing or farming operation, sustainable water usage is paramount. The application and quantity of water used has changed a lot from the “good old days” of flood irrigation at the farms. Water application methods and water management tools are enabling us to conserve water and irrigate our orchards/groves more efficiently.
Today’s growers are using modern gravity or low pressure techniques, micro sprayers and misters as well as high tech sensing devices and that have proven to be very efficient. Micro sprinkler systems with small nozzles apply only enough water needed in the root zone which reduces wasted water due to excessive use or evaporation. Groves that were before irrigated on a weekly schedule are now irrigated on an as needed basis, which is determined by rainfall, temperature, and soil moisture probes and a myriad of computer analysis. Groves that were consistently watered for a set period of time are now watered for varied hours and only as the weather and trees require. It is a balance act as care must be used as to not use too little water, especially for example during a drought which besides reducing fruit size and yield as well as the tree’s vigor not to mention survival. If too little water is applied it can cause a buildup of salts in the soil, and lowering of the groundwater level available to the tree. This leads to weed control as they interfere with the harvesting and compete with the citrus trees for water and nutrients (another balancing act of water and chemistry). These efforts in water conservation and efficiency have a side benefit as they also help in the efficient use of energy. As growers are running shorter irrigation times, so are the electric and diesel pumps required to pump this water (less energy, lower emissions etc.).
For us, as a processor of food products, water conservation is paramount for a myriad of reasons including our farm agricultural partner’s needs, our source and waste reduction, cost effectiveness, social and commercial benefits, etc.
Vita-Pakt supports our customers and vendors’ sustainability initiatives, and encourages strong conservation programs such as:
• Waste Reduction by reviewing operations such as packaging options to reduce waste.
• Energy Conservation by examining such options as shipping routes for fuel conservation.
• Incorporating eco-friendly materials for packaging, manufacturing and business use.
• Utilizing Technology to leverage data and information to reduce redundant activities, manage inventories
more efficiently, and maximize manpower usage.
• Driving the use of ecologically certified components, equipment and alternatives whenever possible.
• Offering ecologically preferable product choices such as Organic, Natural, Chem-Free and others.
Increased environmental awareness is core to our business practice at Vita-Pakt. Wherever possible, we seek to integrate sustainability practices into our company's operations such as:
• Engineering, designing, manufacturing and producing environmentally friendly products and necessary food processing equipment to facilitate the production of our food products.
• Evaluating facility utilization and consolidating operations to reduce inter-facility transfers where practicable.
• Maintaining recycling programs established at all manufacturing and office facilities for corrugation (cardboard), steel, stainless steel, aluminum, other metals, paper and plastics.
• Managing E-WASTE recycling programs in effect at all facilities.
• Utilizing post-consumer materials from our vendors, such as paper, paper towels, packing material, bathroom tissue and other green office type supplies.
• Utilization of hands free metered dispensers for hand towels and sanitizers to minimize waste.
• Encouraging telecommuting, mobile technologies and carpooling for employees where practical and exploring telephone, internet and web conferencing and service options to improve efficiency of operations and reduce travel.
• Reviewing ground transportation routing to conserve gas and reduce emissions.
• Utilizing technology through monitoring operations to improve refrigeration, lighting, motor control and heating/cooling efficiencies.
• Turning off lights, computers and reducing furnace and air conditioning to offices not in use.
• Utilizing technology to reduce paper and mail volume internally and externally.
• Choosing office/manufacturing interior design and usage of products that contribute to improved indoor air quality, considering ventilation, heating, cooling, and cleaning products along with low VOC emissions.
Each employee, from entry level to top executive, is considered to be our most valuable resource. By using continuing improvement programs to increase employee safety, food safety, sustainability awareness and compliance to corporate and government policies, rules and regulations, we can contribute and ensure the health and safety of our customers as well as all of our employees.
Vita-Pakt is proud of its employees and their investment within our communities. Our goal is for our employees to embrace the Vita-Pakt Stewardship Program of sustainability initiatives and practice them at work, in the community and at home by:
Conserving energy through such things as:
• Using compact fluorescent and/or LED lights.
• Regulating thermostats and turning down water heaters to reduce carbon emissions.
• Properly maintaining their cars to increase mileage performance.
• Purchasing ENERGY STAR qualified appliances.
Participating in Community efforts:
• Recycling and clean-up efforts.
• Services to help the elderly and the disadvantaged to insulate homes.
Vita-Pakt has implemented many actions to improve sustainability within its operations including:
• Consolidating operations to improve operating efficiencies and reduce inter-plant transportation.
• Complete utilization of incoming fruit. Juice is processed into NFC and concentrate and the peel is converted to frozen and dried products. Any portion of the fruit not used for peel or juice is used for livestock feed.
• Waste water is utilized for crop irrigation.
• Process water is re-used and re-cycled, where compatible with food safety, to lower fresh water usage.
• Steam systems work on a “closed” system in which all condensate is returned to the boiler feed water tank to conserve energy and to reduce water and boiler chemical usage. Hot condensate water is used for heating product for pasteurization as well a generating hot water (via heat exchangers) for process water and sanitation needs.
• Motor control systems have been upgraded to include PLC’s to sequence motor start-up, “Soft Start” starters to reduce motor start-up load, and VFD’s to increase electrical efficiency.
• Hours of operation for freezers and other systems are adjusted during periods of peak energy demand in order to minimize electrical usage during high demand times of the day.
• Motion controlled lighting and fans have been installed in limited travel areas.
• Steam lines, coolant (glycol) lines, and hot and cold product lines are insulated to reduce heat transfer.
• Water usage is reduced by using higher pressure/lower volume nozzles where applicable. Low volume toilets and urinals as well as waterless urinals have also been installed.
• Teleconferencing technologies, such as GotoMeeting, are used for conferences within the company, and with suppliers to reduce travel.
Ours and our other supplier farmer’s groves/orchards require some fertilization, as do all plants and trees. What has changed recently is how much agri-chemicals we use including fertilizers. Farm management applies fertilizer based on irrigation water analysis and yearly leaf tissue analysis. They only apply the amounts of nutrients required for health and productive groves/orchards. There is a possibility to make nutrients more bioavailable, they use some products such as composts or acids that help free up the naturally occurring nutrients in the soil and this also helps reduce the need for additional fertilization. Most of the fertilizers that are applied utilize chemical irrigation techniques that put the fertilizer through the micro sprinklers and into the root zone where the nutrients are needed and do not broadcast the fertilizer over the entire grove/orchard floor; thus reducing waste, soil migration and encourage weed development. Some may spray some nutrients directly on the leaves which also results in less usage, waste, cross contamination and lower overall cost.
Today’s consumers want aesthetics in other works good looking produce. To accomplish this some sprays, whether organic or traditional, are required. We as an industry employ Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques which use less broad based sprays and instead monitor pest and beneficial insect populations and only require spraying when economic and diminished environmental risk thresholds are reached.
In the past, broad spectrum pesticides were used and these chemicals would kill both the problem or nuisance pests, in particular insects and this would also unfortunately target (and by default cause a catch-22 effect) beneficial insects as well. As the population of beneficial insects were depleted, demands for more sprays were required. In today’s world of IPM, we use compounds made to rid our groves of the specific insects that are damaging the fruit or the trees. These newer materials typically affect a specific insect or type of insect by disrupting its molting or reproductive process. This allowed farmers to use biologics or the use of beneficial insects to help keep the pests in check. In many of cases farmers are releasing more beneficial insects than the need for spraying use to be required.
As landfill and wastewater treatment costs increase, reducing and managing food processing by-products is under constant scrutiny to look for opportunities to save our company money, reduce costs or enhance our profitability.
Source reduction, decreasing the volume of waste material and by-product generated, is generally the most effective method to reduce our disposal costs, however it is not the only as our business model has shown many items are marketing opportunities(i.e. citrus peel, pulp, oil, oil distillates, seed, bioflavonoids, juices, purees, waters, etc.).
After utilizing the aforementioned for source reduction practices, we then use other waste management alternatives such as our use food by-products for animal feed, or for composting or land spreading.
We currently use whatever discharge from the Lindsay facilities that do not go further for other products such as dry peel is sent to cattle feed primarily. By our customer Don Rowell trucking purchasing our solid waste discharge for feeding of food by-products directly to livestock this allows the waste by-products to be useful. It offers several advantages over other options:
• The waste by-product is fed directly to livestock in its original form.
• The waste by-products are fed in liquid and solid slurry form to livestock, thus reducing water discharge, energy cost for separation and easy of handling.
• The waste by-products can be fed year round to livestock, an is not limited by weather conditions therefore not limiting operations scheduling.
Thus by us eliminating food by-products from our liquid and solid waste streams through screening and sending it out for reuse as livestock feed greatly reduces our disposal costs and benefits the environment as well as reduces the farmers economic costs of feed; thus a win/win/win scenario.
Because we agree to sell this material and the farmers agree to take our food by-products, the livestock producer/handler or nutritionist periodically may require a nutrient analysis of our by-product. Typically farmers are interested in finding out the ash, crude fat, crude protein, digestible energy, dry matter, fiber (crude fiber and detergent fiber), minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium), net energy, and salt content in the by-product.
The livestock producer is in the food business they will not accept by-products containing anything harmful to the livestock or downstream to the customer of such things as foreign material, herbicides, pesticides, or pathogen residues. The livestock producer typically will want to know if any chemicals have been added during processing such as preservatives or seasonings that could be harmful to the livestock. Also, the livestock producer may require that the by-product be tested for certain chemicals or other harmful factors (i.e., excessive copper sulfate or salt, mycotoxins and rancid fat) before accepting it. If the we as the food processor do not already have this analytical information, the handler or hauler will generally pay for an independent lab to run this analysis.
The farmer or nutritionist will use the information from these analyses to determine how to incorporate the byproduct into a ration for the livestock.
Our waste by-products are handled pretty much as a food product would for humans. It must be kept in a nonperishable state and condition until they can be picked up or delivered to the livestock producer. Storage requirements are limited so we feed generally directly to the feed hauler. Each truck is cleaned with high pressure hot water every other day to help prevent unsanitary conditions.
Composting & Surface Irrigation
Composting or Surface Irrigation the food waste streams are also used or used as alternatives. These methods degrade food waste by-products into a useful soil additive called humus. Composting degrades by-products above ground in a concentrated area, and surface irrigation degrades liquid by-products beneath the soil in a cultivated field.
With proper management, food by-products and/or landscape trimmings or waste can be composted and added to the soil at appropriate rates. Composting has the following benefits:
• Low transportation costs. The by-products can be composted on-site and the resulting humus can have a volume and weight reduction of up to 40% of the original by-products.
• Low capital investment. Composting is a batch process that can be done by using a mound or a windrow system. In both systems the
by- products are managed to accelerate biological breakdown.
• Good for us as a seasonal processor because our company that primarily processes food for certain months of the year, that composting may be a suitable alternative to animal feeding or landfilling.
• Long shelf-life. Humus can be stored without spoiling and applied to enrich the soil as needed.
Land Spreading or Surface Irrigation
Our company has access to sufficient land for us to be able to incorporate food by-product liquid wastes directly to surface irrigation collection pond for later application unto the soil on site. This was a contractual agreement in conjunction with the city and the property owners who would farm and manage the site and with continuous monitoring by the city or it’s designate. A farmer as assign will maintain crops in accordance to the needs of the permits and discharge load. With proper management, the waste by-products are used to enhance the soil. Landspreading or Surface Irrigation has the following benefits:
• A separate treatment or pretreatment facility is not needed.
• The waste water is pumped continuously to holding ponds and blended with additional well water for the needs of the crops. No further processing or handling needs or transportation or additional storage is needed; it is simply applied and left as a soil additive for plant nutrient requirements.