Musco Family Olive Co. is the leading supplier of table olives in America, and our Tracy, CA plant is the most advanced olive processing facility in the world.
But did you know we're also a leader in environmental sustainability? At our 280-acre headquarters we're driving towards a 100% renewable production process with two clear goals - to create a better value for olive lovers, and to help the health of our planet.
Soil salinity has long been an issue in the Central Valley. State rules to control salty discharge have caused numerous food producers to leave the state, and others to simply close their doors. Musco Family Olive Co. is a third generation California business, and we plan to be here for decades more to come. So our response has been to tackle the salinity challenge head on.
We first turned to straight to Mother Nature, and a remarkable grass called NyPa. This grass has an uncanny love of salt and gobbles up tons of the stuff each year. NyPa had never been put into widespread use until we decided to take a chance.
The 180-acre crop is irrigated with process water from our facility. When plants are mature, the NyPa crop is harvested, bundled, and sold to ranchers as cattle feed (they tell us the cattle uttery love the grass's salty taste). The salt is permanently removed from the soil, and the crop can renew itself again and again.
So far, we're the only company in America taking this unique approach to wastewater, an approach that allows us to treat the majority of our salty wastewater without ever flicking a switch.
But when we do flick a switch, it's a doozy!
Water leftover from the NyPa process is then fed to our award-winning Renewable Energy and Wastewater System (see RENEWS™ photo above). RENEWS™ is a one-of-a-kind closed-loop system where two waste streams – olive pits and wastewater – are combined to produce clean water and electricity. Developed by Combined Solar Technologies, the system has been featured in a Discovery Channel special, received "Game Changer of the Year Award" by Grow-California, and has been featured in numerous print articles.
The power for RENEWS™ starts with the olive itself. Musco pits billions of olives each year, pits that were previously thought of as a waste source. Now our pits are, as Discovery Channel put it, “Powering the Future.”
The olive pits are ignited at extremely high temperature in a cutting-edge, clean-burning biomass furnace. The energy released is then used to heat Musco’s wastewater, distilling impurities and creating a tremendous amount of steam pressure.
That powerful steam is then fed to a modern version of the classic steam engine, the largest industrial steam engine working in America. The engine spins an electric generator capable of providing green electricity for our facility.
In the past 15 years we've cut salt and mineral use at the Tracy plant by 80%. We've now recycled nearly 1.5 billion gallons onsite using our closed loop system. We are the only California olive producer that doesn't discharge into rivers or into the sea.
At Musco we truly believe in sustainability and environmental stewardship. Our facilities are stocked with energy-efficient lighting, pumps, and motors. And our distribution and logistics program is optimizing intermodal transportation to make sure that our healthful products are shipped by the most energy and cost-effective means available.