Highlights from our November B Learning Lunch

At our November B Learning lunch, we heard from Lisa Cox from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, along with representatives and interns from New Seasons Market and Nossa Familia Coffee, about the Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE).

The Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE) is an internship program administered by Oregon Sea Grant and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, funded through a grant from EPA. This non-regulatory and voluntary program invites Oregon businesses to host a free, full-time, ten week intern to conduct onsite sustainability research at their businesses.

Interns are placed at host businesses to analyze the company’s waste streams and to research and recommend process improvements that will lower operating costs while reducing negative environmental impacts. A business may be able to address waste reduction projects sooner and faster with the help of an OASE intern. An intern can make suggestions that improve efficiency, save money, reduce waste, or decrease regulatory requirements.

Businesses can benefit from:

  • A new set of creative eyes looking at a project

  • The intern being mentored and guided by an OASE engineer or scientist

  • A full report and presentation detailing the intern’s work and next steps for the company

The internship program was inaugurated fairly recently, with the first round of interns in 2017. After two successful groups of interns, the OASE will be back again next year and businesses are now invited to apply with their sustainability project proposals. Applications are due February 15, 2019. To talk about your project idea, obtain the application details and form contact Lisa Cox at cox.lisa@deq.state.or.us or 503-229-5181.

Find the application form and more information about applying here.

New Seasons Market: Food Waste Prevention

Athena Petty, of B Corp grocery store chain New Seasons Market, introduced their intern from this summer, Sharlee Hughes, who focused her project on tracking and analyzing food waste prevention in New Seasons stores. This was a project that Athena and the NSM team identified due to the significant impact that food waste has on climate change, as noted in the recently-published book Drawdown.

Specifically, the focus for this internship was to evaluate existing food recovery programs and suggest best practices, connect NSM’s food waste data with its associated environmental impacts, and review blue-slip employee food program and suggest ways to standardize the program.

Some findings of the intern’s work included:

  • Food waste is the single largest material sent to landfills, with roughly 40% of food being wasted every year in the US alone.

  • The social and environmental externalities associated with food waste are vast and not always transparent, e.g. food insecurity and pollution.

  • Consumer-facing businesses such as NSM can have a positive impact.

  • According to the EPA Waste Reduction Model (WARM), in one month NSM avoided 115,721 pounds of CO2e (greenhouse gases) from being emitted by donating food that is deemed unsaleable (but still fit for human consumption) to local food recovery organizations.

By implementing a company-wide tracking system, New Seasons could work towards a 10% food waste reduction goal that would save at least:

  • $94,000 per month in lost profits

  • 535,000 gallons of water/month

  • The equivalent of driving 4,400 miles/month in terms of CO2e emissions

Nossa Familia Coffee: Pollution Prevention & Zero Waste in Cafés & Roasteries

Karen Lickteig, of B Corp Portland coffee roaster Nossa Familia Coffee, introduced and spoke briefly about their intern’s project with the company. Unfortunately the intern, Maya Vigil, was not able to make the talk.

Maya’s internship project centered around producing a Café and Roastery Sustainability Best Practices report in partnership with a nonprofit trade organization, the Oregon Coffee Board. She visited several local roasteries and cafés in order to conduct interviews and assess the current situation, and to make recommendations on how these types of businesses can lower their waste and reduce carbon footprint.

Karen also shared recent data from an effort to go Zero Waste at Nossa Familia’s newest café at Seven Corners in Portland. The café has implemented some changes as suggested by Maya’s research and report, such as implementing an upcharge of 25 cents on all to-go cups, eliminating all disposable straws, and offering innovative packaging solutions like oatmeal served in reusable mason jars. Recent data comparing this café to Nossa Familia’s other shops shows that these changes are influencing customers’ behaviors: the percent of customers bringing their own cup is triple that of a nearby café, and on average around half the percent of customers are getting their drink in a to-go cup (31% at Seven Corners vs. 52% and 80% to-go at the other cafes).

The OASE internship is just one of a variety of internship programs offered to companies looking to offer an education experience to university students. This program comes highly recommended for participation by all participants.

More information can be found at:

Thank You, Canvas Host!
We also want to offer a big thanks to Canvas Host for sponsoring our lunches and supporting collaboration and learning to increase our social and environmental impact.

Photos from our November B Learning Lunch