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Olive Company Cleans Wastewater, Generates Power with Olive Pits

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Inventor Frank Schubert in Musco's Tracy, Calif. plant pit burner where more than 15 tons of olive pits are converted to carbon-neutral heat energy each day. (PRNewsFoto/Musco Family Olive Co.)

Family-owned, Musco Family Olive Co., the nation’s leading supplier of table olives, was recently honored as a “California 2011 Leader in Innovation in Energy and Agriculture” by Grow-California for its cutting-edge approach to business which has a positive impact on California’s agricultural industry and economy. Musco received the “Game Changer of the Year” Award in the category of Innovation in Energy and Agriculture and earned the recognition specifically for its most recent initiative – the Renewable Energy and Wastewater System (RenEWS).

According to Felix Musco, CEO of Musco Family Olive Co., more than 15 tons of olive pits, previously considered waste, are converted to carbon-neutral heat energy each day through RenEWS. They system was invented by environmental specialist, Frank Schubert of Combined Solar Technologies, a leader in renewable energy/water reclamation. The energy from the pits is used to evaporate wastewater and to drive the largest industrial steam engine in the United States (video), at Musco’s Tracy, California headquarters. More than half of the facility’s electrical needs will be supplied by the system.

“Receiving the ‘Game Changer of the Year’ Award underscores Musco’s commitment to environmental stewardship and to providing for future generations,” said Musco, representing the third generation of the Musco family legacy. “Our goal is a 100 percent renewable practice, where every olive processed within the facility is also helping our planet.”

2011 Game Changer of the Year award presentation with Ben Hall (Musco Family Oli

2011 Game Changer of the Year award presentation with Ben Hall (Musco Family Olive Co.)

Musco's environmental stewardship extends to multiple innovations, including recycling more than 90 percent of all its water through a closed-loop system and extensive diversion from landfills, either through beneficial reuse on-site or via off-site institutional recycling. Musco is the first food processor in the United States to utilize NyPa crop forage to address soil salinity. The company is also dedicated to innovative transport and packaging processes.

“Musco Family Olive Co. is a true game changer in its innovative approach,” said Jon Gregory, president and CEO of Grow California. “RenEWS caught the interest of numerous investors, bankers and economic development organizations who consulted with us to identify California agricultural companies with an impressive focus on innovation.”

Musco takes in nearly half of the 29,000 acre California olive crop, contracting with more than 250 growers, 300 employees, and countless vendors and business partners to make up the Musco family tree.

“We are proud of our hard-earned legacy as being the leading olive producer in the nation, but we are even more proud of our dedication and investment to doing business in a way that is healthy for our environment and community,” said Musco. “It doesn’t matter the size of your business. We are proof that innovative environmental solutions are attainable.”

The award was presented by California Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross, and USDA Rural Development State Director, Dr. Glenda Humiston, at a special ceremony during the inaugural California Agriculture Innovation conference on the campus of U.C. Davis. Winners were selected because of their focus on innovation and contributions to California’s economic growth. A total of 12 companies were recognized including Blue Diamond Growers, Lundberg Family Farms, and Paramount Farms.

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