At the Maryland Wholesale Produce Center, Jessup, recycling and composting are new initiatives.

Jessup-based Lancaster Foods Inc. now occupies a building certified to meet the standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Coastal Sunbelt Produce, Savage, Md., is emphasizing composting and energy-efficiency.

All of the above are examples of sustainability measures that produce suppliers in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., area have launched.

“We paid a significant premium to get a LEED-certified warehouse,” said Jerry Chadwick, vice president of marketing and business development for Lancaster Foods Inc., which bought an old Giant Foods facility, spent a year renovating it and moved in two years ago.

There are other measures in place at Lancaster, Chadwick said.

“We’re also doing some things with our trucking fleet,” Chadwick said. “As we bring in new vehicles, we achieve positive differences in fuel efficiencies. The waste on all our fresh-cut gets sent to farmers, and there is a considerable amount of waste.”

John Corso, president of Coastal Sunbelt, says his company is composting about 2 million pounds of scrap trimmings from its fresh-cut operations, with the compost sent to local farms.

The company is involved in a number of other sustainability moves, as well, Corso said.

“We’ve upgraded our entire facility’s lighting. It’s pretty significant,” he said. “We have invested in an energy-efficient building, whether it’s for lighting usage or energy. Because of our route density, our trucks service a lot of different customers (on the same schedule).

“We are very big believers in local farms. By back hauling for farmers back on our trucks, because our trucks are out on the local market, we actually save a lot of mileage.”

Joe Rahll, vice president of Edward G. Rahll & Sons Inc. on the Maryland Wholesale Produce Market, said the terminal market has gotten into recycling.

“The market in general is recycling any distressed merchandise,” he said.

In Hanover, Md., Belair Produce Co. has its own recycling program, said Rob Mumma, senior vice president of business development.

“We’ve got some farmers that pick up waste from the cutting room,” he said. “We recycle paper, cardboard and aluminum cans — all the common-sense, basic stuff.”

The company also is upgrading its refrigeration system, Mumma said.

“We’re putting in new condenser units for our refrigeration,” he said. “We run on ammonia. We spent a chunk of money on it that will give us a return in about 3½ years on efficiency. Everybody likes to spend less on their electric bill, so we’re going to save a substantial amount on that.”

Such measures are prudent investments, Mumma said.

“It’s common sense that translates to dollars,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of dollars out there, and if you can squeeze the efficiencies out of them and get a return on investment, we’re all for it.”

In Landover, Md., Keany Produce Co. took on a major sustainability project last year, said Paul Pappas, chief operating officer.

“We replaced all our warehouse lights, which were only seven years old at the time,” he said. “We replaced it with high-efficient fluorescent lighting. We purchased 39 new trucks last year that run on low-sulfur fuels. We do pallet recycling. We have an in-house recycling program for office papers and that kind of thing.”

Perhaps not every produce supplier in the area is involved in sustainability initiatives, but everyone should be, Pappas said.

“It makes sense for your bottom line. There’s no reason not to do it,” he said.