There isn’t anything much greener than vegetables, so if that’s part of your company name, you better make sure you are, too. For Veritable Vegetable, an organic supplier and transporter based in San Francisco, it is part of how it meets its customers’ — and its community’s — needs.
“Sustainability is a deeply ingrained value at VV; we consider the environment, social, and economic impact of every decision we make at every level of the company,” says CEO Mary Jane Evans. “As a certified California Green Business and a certified B Corp, we believe in putting our business to work for the greater good.”
(Certified B Corporations must meet high standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.)
The women-owned and -led company runs its trucks 365 days of the year on more than 40 routes every week in California, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, and New Mexico. VV’s near-zero-emissions fleet includes equipment for both local and regional routes.
And sustainability efforts don’t stop with its fleet. The facilities are equipped with a 560-panel solar array, offsetting more than 25% of its energy use. Evans and her team also recently signed up for CleanPowerSF, San Francisco’s renewable energy program, which means all the company’s power comes from 100% renewable sources.
“We utilize state-of-the-art, high-efficiency refrigeration equipment and refrigeration management technology to control our storage rooms and docks,” says Evans. High-speed roll-up doors ensure food stays fresh while reducing energy usage. “We also invest in energy-efficient ballasts, fixtures and bulbs, as well as motion- and lumen-sensors that detect movement and natural daylight, cutting down on energy use whenever possible.”
Veritable Vegetable is also one of the few businesses in San Francisco that diverts 99% of its waste from landfills by recycling, re-using and composting nearly all the materials entering the warehouse. The staff uses environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, prints double-sided to reduce paper waste, avoids using plastic water bottles and disposable utensils, and purchases furniture made from renewable resources. Its warehouses feature insulation made from shredded cotton jeans.
For the fleet, Veritable Vegetable specs aerodynamic tractors (Kenworth T660s), hybrid mid-range trucks (Kenworth T3 Hybrids), hybrid refrigeration units (Carrier Vector units), and fully electric NEV light-duty transfer trucks for warehouse use. (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, or NEV, is a designation for battery-electric vehicles usually built to have a top speed of 25 mph and a maximum loaded weight of 3,000 pounds.)
There are side skirts on all 48-foot trailers, tire pressure monitoring systems on all trailers, and wheel covers on all tractors.
The maintenance crew also reduces consumption by running all tires through a screening, grading, and retread process that ensures they get as much life from each tire casing as possible.
“Making a new tire uses about 23 gallons of oil, much of it in the casing; therefore, to reduce the need for new casings, we have a recap program which significantly reduces overall fuel consumption and minimizes our waste stream,” Evans says. “Our recap program is just one example of our holistic approach to saving fuel.”
Efforts to add electric delivery trucks to the fleet have faced difficulties in putting together an appropriate electric infrastructure.
“Though we’ve made inroads, our efforts to add electric delivery trucks to our fleet have been slowed,” says Evans, saying the company wants to be very thorough in its research to to ensure it doesn’t have a false start.
And research is an important part of being a sustainability leader. “Over the years, we’ve both led by example and learned from others,” she says. “We lean on our community and find resources as they become available. We also are out in front, experimenting with new technologies before they are widely adopted.”