Remaining committed to being one of the most progressive and innovative companies in meeting all of California’s future laws and mandates, Harrison Industries plans to be the model for the future of all types of organic waste recycling.

Harrison Industries (Ventura, CA) was founded in 1932 during the Great Depression. That year, E.J. Harrison fashioned a truck from several car bodies that he named “Chop Suey” and began making a modest living by hauling his neighbors’ trash to the Ventura dumps for 75 cents a load. The business was an instant success and Harrison’s young wife Myra helped with the books, becoming a working mother long before this was common. Myra was a woman way ahead of the women’s movement and she received many awards for her business acumen and her philanthropic work.

Today, 84 years later, four generations of Harrison family members are involved in the day-to-day operations of Harrison Industries, which is one of the oldest and largest privately owned trash collection businesses in the U.S. E.J. Harrison passed away in 1991 and Myra became the president and then co-founder until she passed away in 2014 at the age of 99. Their oldest son Ralph is now president of Harrison Industries while E.J.’s and Myra’s other two sons, Jim and Myron, serve as vice presidents.

Equipment and Workforce

With a combined workforce of more than 366 employees that includes drivers, well-trained mechanics and office staff members who take customer orders and politely answer customer questions, Harrison Industries prides itself on a happy, loyal and well-trained staff—15 employees have been with Harrison for more than 30 years and 75 employees have been with the company for over 20 years.

Harrison Industries maintains a fleet of 133 trash vehicles, including 49 commercial-type front loaders, 64 automated side loaders, 17 roll-off vehicles and three pull trailers. Harrison’s support-type vehicles include eight supervisor pickup trucks, five sales support vehicles, 11 flatbed bin delivery vehicles, three fork-type bin delivery vehicles, seven service-type mobile repair vehicles, one sweeper and one cleanup vehicle. Harrison Industries has long been working to reduce its impact on climate change by understanding its carbon footprint. One component of Harrison’s plan is to convert a majority of its diesel fleet to vehicles that run on clean-burning natural gas. In 2003, Harrison opened the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling station in western Ventura County. A compressed natural gas (CNG) station has just been completed at their truck yard to enable direct fueling of the CNG trucks from a gas pipeline with 26 dispensers. CNG has demonstrated itself as a highly efficient and reliable low-carbon fuel for material collection vehicles. The company currently has 33 LNG trucks and 13 CNG trucks in the fleet. In the future, Harrison will only buy CNG trucks but will continue to run the LNG trucks as long as they are in compliance and run efficiently.

Harrison Industries also meets the requirements of the state’s Preventative Maintenance program. In 2010 Harrison became one of the first trash hauling companies in the state to earn Climate Registered status for taking voluntary steps to measure its operation’s carbon footprint. The Climate Registry provides information forms to fill out that requires the company to self-examine fuel and energy use. Harrison Industries has hired a consulting firm that puts all of this data together to figure out its carbon footprint—which is negative due to all of the recycling efforts of the company—ensuring that Harrison is moving toward compliance of Assembly Bill 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act. All of this information for the Climate Registry is submitted to the Registry, and reviewed by a third party engineer. The Climate Registry is a non-profit organization that operates the only carbon footprint registry in North America.

The company serves 90,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Harrison has exclusive residential and commercial contracts in the Ventura County cities of Ventura, Camarillo, Ojai and Fillmore, and in the Santa Barbara County City of Carpinteria, as well as in parts of unincorporated Ventura County. Harrison has exclusive residential contracts for the community of Newbury Park located in Thousand Oaks, Naval Base Ventura County, and the Channel Islands Beach Community Services District, as well as the Carpinteria and Ventura California state beach parks.

A Dynamic and Changing Marketplace

Harrison Industries has always been in the forefront of the recycling movement and has an extraordinarily successful track record of good customer service while maintaining high standards of recycling. “It’s always been a challenge to keep up with new and constantly evolving state laws and mandates, and to do so in an efficient, cost-effective and, most importantly, successful manner. We also must focus on making sure our facilities are adequate for future needs,” says Mike Harrison, Engineering Manager. “As a result, all of Harrison Industries’ facilities are fully permitted and licensed under current federal, state and local regulations. However, we continuously perform strategic planning to ensure our services keep pace with the demand. This is the framework that helps us identify our starting point, our objective, the way to reach our objective and, finally, how we measure our progress.”

In 1990, Harrison was the first company in California to implement citywide residential recycling programs in all the communities that Harrison serves. Gold Coast Recycling & Transfer Station ( in Ventura was established in 1990 to help the company’s franchise clients meet state mandates. This 75,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility is located on a 7.8-acre parcel and provides Harrison’s residential and commercial customers with the opportunity to recycle more than 20 different materials through curbside collection including aluminum, newsprint, glass, steel, cardboard, plastics 1-7, paper products and cartons. They also recycle mattresses and carpeting, as well as have a full C & D (construction and demolition) program and a commercial picking line where concrete, wood and other building materials are recycled.

“Harrison Industries is committed to moving toward zero waste,” says Vice President Jim Harrison. “Compliance doesn’t always come easy and we have managed to stay ahead of the curve by building the innovative Gold Coast Recycling & Transfer Station, by building one of the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling stations in Ventura County, and by working with our strategic partner, Agromin Premium Soil Products (, to recycle green waste and to establish three composting centers in Ventura County with plans to build to a composting environmental park in the near future.”

All of Harrison’s franchise clients have surpassed the recycling mandates of Assembly Bill 939—the 1989 state law that requires California cities and counties to cut the amount of solid waste they send to landfills by 50 percent. In addition, Harrison has met the challenges of Assembly Bill 341, the 2011 law that requires mandatory commercial recycling and set a state goal of 75 percent recycling statewide by 2020. Helping Harrison to achieve these successes is Gold Coast Recycling & Transfer Station, which celebrated its 26th anniversary this year. Continuing to improve the equipment there, the Gold Coast facility has added new cutting-edge automated sorting systems. One is a fully automated picking line for source-separated material. Also, Gold Coast has the latest commercial model picking line. There are also two balers as well to keep up with the high volume. These improvements allowed Gold Coast to speedily process more than 325,000 tons of recyclable materials in 2014 and close to 1,680,000 tons over the past five years. Gold Coast also serves as a buy-back center and as an ABOP (Antifreeze, Batteries, Oil and Paint) center.

Gold Coast Recycling
Gold Coast Recycling picking line.
Gold Coast Recycling
The front of Gold Coast Recycling.

A Leader in Organics

As a leader in organic waste management, Harrison has been piloting a food waste program since April 2012. The food waste is being composted using an ECS Covered Aerated Static Pile (CASP) composting system. “When composting food waste it is important to control odors, and by using a CASP system we are able to control the air emission from the composting process and filter it using a bio filter to eliminate odors,” says Bill Camarillo, CEO of Agromin. The food waste recycling program has grown to include more than 120 participants, including a hospital, hotels, county jails, grocery stores and restaurants. Harrison is continuing its efforts to meet and beat the challenges of AB 341 and AB 32. They have purchased an anaerobic digester and are in the permitting process; when in service, the food waste can be used to create energy.

In 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1826, designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and create a source of green energy. AB 1826 took effect on April 1 of this year and requires businesses generating more than eight cubic yards of organic solid waste per week to arrange for organic waste recycling services, where available. On January 1, 2017, businesses that generate four cubic yards of organic waste per week will have to arrange for organic waste recycling services, and at the beginning of 2019, businesses generating four cubic yards of commercial waste weekly must arrange for waste recycling service. (The bill helps implement AB 341, the 2011 landmark recycling law that established the state goal of diverting at least 75 percent of California’s solid waste away from landfills by 2020.) This provides Harrison with a new challenge to ensure clients meet these new mandates. They are currently in the entitlement process to permit several facilities for organic material processing.

AB 1826 diverts methane-gas-producing organic food and yard waste away from landfills and into programs that Harrison and their franchise clients created. Harrison delivers this material to their strategic partner, Agromin Premium Soil Products, which turns this waste into renewable resources. The material is processed to produce more than 200 different eco-friendly products such as organic soil blends, bark, potting mix, compost and mulches for agriculture, landscape, retail and renewable energy sectors.


Internal Operations

Harrison employees work in safe surroundings and have only the best safety gear and safety instruction. Harrison conducts its own in-house safety meetings monthly. These meetings are facilitated by William Castillo, the Risk Manager, and Raul Navarro, the Driver Trainer. Harrison also uses Associate Loss Control Consultant Lee Patton from Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc., and Keller Williams online. “They provide additional information on current safety topics for our meetings,” says General Manager Lynn Harrison. “Training for drivers starts with a three-day class on all topics and training continues throughout the year as needed. Drivers are required to have good driving records, a license for at least three years and Class 3 commercial drivers’ licenses. In addition, they must attend monthly safety meetings.”

Harrison Industries has made a major commitment to several non-profits and to youth organizations in the communities they serve. “E.J. and Myra believed that the youth of today are our future leaders for tomorrow and that they need to be fully equipped to handle these responsibilities and become responsible citizens,” says President Ralph Harrison. As a result, Harrison Industries is a major donor to the Boys & Girls clubs in their communities, and the E.J. Harrison and Sons Boys & Girls Clubhouse in the city of Ventura was named after Harrison due to the generous donations and continuing monetary support. Harrison is also involved in business development in Ventura County with memberships in diverse organizations, all working to better the business climate for existing and new businesses. Harrison also helps to sponsor many fundraising events throughout the year held by a wide variety of charities and non-profits, including:

  • FOOD Share
  • Casa Pacifica
  • Project Understanding
  • American Cancer Society – Relay for Life
  • American Red Cross
  • Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts
  • Boys & Girls Clubs
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Earth Day celebrations
  • Music festivals
  • Turning Point Foundation

Environmental organizations and environmental cleanups, including cleanups of beaches and rivers in Ventura County

“Harrison officials speak to non-profit organizations, frequently bring our educational video with us to share with others, and we also give tours of Gold Coast Recycling to age-appropriate youth groups and adult groups,” says Nan Drake, Government Affairs and Public Relations Director for Harrison.


Looking Forward

Harrison Industries remains committed to being one of the most progressive and innovative companies in meeting all of California’s future laws and mandates. The company plans to build an environmental park that will be the model for the future of recycling of all types of organic waste. Vice President Myron Harrison says, “Our 84-year history is filled with many successes and we plan on continuing to build for a better future.” | WA

For more information, contact Nan Drake, Director of Government Affairs and Public Relations, at (805) 701-9809, via e-mail at [email protected] or visit


Avoided emissions from recycling and composting activities: Achieving “Net Zero”—The State has released Phase 2 of the AB 32 Scoping Plan, which outlines goals and targets for 2020 and beyond. They have set a goal for the Waste Sector to achieve “Net Zero” where the operation emissions minus the avoided emissions from recycling and composting equal zero or more. Harrison Industries is Net Zero today as demonstrated by the chart above.




Key Organization Memberships


VCEDA – Ventura County Economic Development Association

EDCVC- Economic Development Collaborative of Ventura County

California State University Channel Islands Business Advisory Council

Ventura County Regional Energy Alliance Technical Committee

Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce

Ventura Chamber of Commerce

Carpinteria Chamber of Commerce

Fillmore Chamber of Commerce

Camarillo Chamber of Commerce

Ojai Chamber of Commerce

Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce

Ventura County Waste Haulers Association

California Refuse Recycling Council


Latest Diversion Rates Available (2013)

Camarillo – 73 percent

Carpinteria – 75 percent

Fillmore – 62 percent

Ojai – 64 percent

Thousand Oaks – 70 percent

Ventura – 72 percent

Unincorporated Ventura County – 58 percent