The cooperative - CERO which stands for Cooperative Energy Recycling and Organics - helps local restaurants and other area businesses save money and improve the environment by helping them sort a substantial amount of their waste, and then partnering with CERO to collect and sell it. CERO is zero in Spanish - meaning zero waste.
CERO's waste separation systems will enable the Cooperative to increase reclamation and sale of clean paper, plastics, metals, waste vegetable oil and organic food waste, reducing customer trash sent to landfill and incinerators by 50% or more.
According to Lor Holmes, a cooperative worker-owner and business manager, “we will be able to divert more than 1000 tons of organic food waste annually and return it to the food chain as rich composted soil.” Holmes’ position was funded through MassCOSH with a seed grant from the Barr Foundation.
Barr funding also enabled co-op members to bring in Stacey Cordeiro of the Boston Center for Community Ownership to facilitate cooperative development, ensuring that worker owners acquire skills and knowledge to run their business.
Unique as a bilingual, multicultural co-op, CERO is currently working to contract customers while raising the funds needed for trucks, equipment and working capital. Combining low interest loans, crowd sourcing and an innovative new direct public offering vehicle, CERO is part of a burgeoning solidarity economy fostering workplace democracy and new forms of community investment.