Keeping Unsold Food on the Local Plate

Not every piece of produce or bakery item at your favorite ShopRite sells on schedule. If those unsold items went to a landfill, they would break down and release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. That is why many ShopRite stores send unsold food to better, more sustainable places.

Food banks are the first destination for unsold items that are still fresh. Last year, ShopRite sent more than 5,000 tons of food to these community resources.

Other fruits, vegetables and baked goods that do not sell also stay out of landfills. In the last two years alone, ShopRite stores have sent 38 million pounds of food that customers did not purchase to diversion partners who turn most of it into animal feed for nearby farms.

Building on a foundation of sustainability practices

ShopRite’s food waste diversion program, which has grown significantly over the last two years, builds on a wide range of in-store sustainability programs, including energy efficiency and recycling.

The coordination of the program resides in the Indirect Procurement Department, a group dedicated to efficiently sourcing goods and services that ShopRite stores use. That includes everything from office supplies to store equipment to waste management services. Every purchase made by the department includes sustainability as a criteria.

“We saw diverting food waste as an opportunity because it is truly a win-win,” said Michael Day, Vice President of Strategic Planning and Transformation. “It would help us be more sustainable; it would help our store owners divert food waste from landfills and it would help them save on hauling and tipping costs.”

The program has been so successful that Organix Recycling, the largest food waste recycler in the U.S., presented ShopRite with its inaugural Pioneer Award last year, recognizing ShopRite’s efforts to constantly expand its food waste diversion program. Most of the food waste that ShopRite stores send to Organix goes to farms within the same state or region, according to Jake Brashares, National Accounts Director at Organix.

Day credits the recognition to not only increasing the amount of food waste diverted but also setting up store operations to ensure diversion is done correctly and efficiently. For example, training store associates and locating collection bins in the right places for each store both matter when it comes to diverting as much material as possible while keeping debris out of the waste stream.

“We were thrilled Organix acknowledged us,” said Day.