"Musco is proof that innovative environmental solutions are not only attainable but also good business. You always can improve on a good thing."
Felix Musco, President and CEO
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 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 utterly 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 water reuse, an approach that allows us to recycle the majority of our water without ever flicking a switch.
But when we do flick a switch, it's a doozy!
Leftover water that is not recycled in the NyPa process is 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 – will be 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 can, as Discovery Channel put it, “Power the Future.”
The olive pits are ignited at extremely high temperature in a cutting-edge, clean-burning biomass furnace. The energy released can then be used to heat Musco's wastewater, distilling impurities and creating a tremendous amount of steam pressure.
That powerful steam can then be fed to a modern version of the classic steam engine, one of the largest industrial steam engines working in America. The engine spins an electric generator capable of providing green electricity for the majority of our facility.
"When you look at it holistically, it works all the way around. We’re taking two waste streams, and from those we wind up with clean water and electricity"
Environmental Director Ben Hall
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-efficient and cost-effective means available.