When Colombo Vaccarezza started collecting swill and dry waste from local restaurants, businesses and residents in Lodi to feed his pigs, he never imagined that 90 years later the operation, also known as Cal-Waste, would be one of the largest waste recovery and recycling companies in the northern Central Valley. “My uncle really came here to establish himself as the hog rancher of the area,” current Cal-Waste owner Dave Vaccarezza said.
“When you went to the community you generally had to take the dry trash in order to get the swill to feed your hogs.”
As the community grew, the company grew with it. After an outbreak of typhoid in the late 1930s forced the extermination of all pigs in California, the Vaccarezza family got out of the hog business and began focusing solely on the waste business.
According to Vaccarezza, the industry has been consistent over the years and has managed to bring his family through the Great Depression and several recessions.
Despite the waste industry being a $40 billion a year industry nationally, the business hasn’t always been lucrative, but the Vaccarezza views the work they do as an opportunity to make something good happen in the communities that they serve, Dave said.
Today, Vaccarezza runs the company with the help of his sons Rudy and Casey. Cal-Waste currently has over 140 employees with a very low turnover rate — 25 people have been employed there for at least 25 years.
“You kind of get what you put into your team, so if you take care of your team they take care of you,” Vaccarezza said. “We try to treat everybody like they want to be treated, and we try to provide a good workplace and decent wages.”
At one time, Cal-Waste serviced all of the City of Lodi along with Galt, Elk Grove and South Sacramento until the family sold a portion of the business in the late ’90s. However, in recent years the business has expanded its service back to where it was before and has contracts with the City of Galt, Rancho Murieta, Woodbridge, Angels Camp and Calaveras County. Cal-waste also holds a franchise for industrial collection in Stockton, Lodi, Galt, Elk Grove, Sacramento and Calaveras County.
Cal-Waste has three locations, including one in Arnold, one in Valley Springs and their Galt headquarters, and service at least 20,000 people out of those facilities.
Eighty percent of the recyclables they send out is shipped into the international market, and they not only process recycling materials from the communities in their service area but also several communities outside of the area including Stockton, Modesto, Turlock, Amador County, Folsom and El Dorado County.
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