Rumiano Cheese Co. introduced a climate impact program aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. The first step in the process is focused on improving sustainability within its supply chain, the Crescent City/Willow, Calif.-based company says.

Research and development plans include transportation reductions and packaging improvements as well as assessing water usage and carbon emissions, according to California’s oldest family-owned cheese company founded in 1919. 

In pursuit of these goals, Rumiano is partnering with the CDIC, a coalition of California dairy producers, processors, major universities and the California Dairy Research Foundation (CDRF). Established by the California Milk Advisory Board, the CDIC was created to collaboratively drive dairy innovation and productivity through grants, internships, research projects and educational training. 

With support from the CDIC’s Dairy Business Innovation Initiative, Rumiano has hired its first sustainability impact intern to assess the company’s entire ecological footprint. Cal Poly Humboldt environmental science major Ellie Frazier has spent the past two months collecting and documenting comprehensive baseline measurements on all business activities that contribute to energy and water consumption, resource usage and carbon emissions, the company reports.  

With baseline data in place, Frazier has now entered the second stage of her research where she is analyzing areas of the business that have the greatest opportunities for optimization and environmental outcomes. Frazier’s research has already identified a number of climate impacting opportunities around transportation and sustainable packaging, and she will be exploring additional ways Rumiano can further reduce emissions by decreasing miles traveled of raw materials and finished goods. 

The collaboration with the CDIC builds on Rumiano’s long commitment to advancing sustainable farming and production practices and a record of innovation. Rumiano has already made significant investments in sustainability on several fronts. Ambitious initiatives range from its zero-waste cheese manufacturing plant that recycles and repurposes everything from cardboard and plastic to whey and wastewater, to the company’s in-house wastewater treatment facility that biologically treats 20,000 gallons of cheese production wastewater per day.

This process not only prevents 99% of milk solids from entering the environment through groundwater and rivers, it enables the water to become potable and usable for its community and puts clean water and food grade compost equivalents back into the land, the company says.

Last year, Rumiano opened a new energy-efficient 46,766-square-foot state-of-the-art cheese packaging plant in Willows, Calif., that will soon run on 100% renewable solar energy generated on-site like the company’s existing facilities, it reports. 

“As we work toward our long-range sustainability action plans, we are committed to continuous progress across the entire supply chain. We know that over time, small changes in our farming, manufacturing and packaging processes will lead to big transformations. But the greatest impact on the health of our planet will lie in our collective ability to make pasture-based, regenerative farming practices more affordable and accessible to all farms,” notes Joe Baird, Rumiano Cheese’s CEO. “Regenerative agriculture promotes healthier soils that absorb more carbon into the ground and  keep more greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.” 

Veronique Lagrange, director of the CDIC, adds: “Progress relies on innovation and collaboration. We value our partnership with processors like Rumiano and are pleased to offer support through the Dairy Business Innovation Initiative to help them achieve their business objectives.”