Supermarkets, vendors and
manufacturers step up their
efforts to increase sustainability
and help the environment.
BY RICHARD TURCSIK
On average, that is how much organic waste is produced daily by
the typical American supermarket in the form of corn husks, moldy
strawberries, watermelon rinds, pineapple cores, outer cabbage
leaves, wilted flowers, moldy cheese, stale bread, day-old pizza and
other perishable items not fit for human consumption.
In most cases it ends up in the local landfill, adding to a litany of
growing problems including increased carbon footprints, greenhouse
gases and global warming.
“By some estimates as much as 40 percent of the food we produce
may be wasted, i.e., ending up in a landfill,” says Andrew Harig, senior
director of sustainability, tax and trade at the Food Marketing Institute
(FMI), the supermarket industry trade association based in Arlington,
Va. “The U.S. has announced a national goal of cutting food waste in
half by 2030, a goal supported by the food industry. The entire supply
chain has a role to play, and FMI will continue to pursue policies that
encourage environmental, societal and business innovation.”
At Ahold USA, company officials have already seen the light—lit-
erally. The company’s Stop & Shop New England Division has built a
Green Energy Facility at its Freetown, Mass. distribution center fea-
turing an anaerobic digester that converts garbage into electricity, sup-
plying 40 percent of the distribution center’s energy needs. The energy
actually goes into the grid of Eversource, the local utility, and Ahold
gets a credit for the power created.
“We are taking the inedible food at our New England Division
stores— 95 tons a day at some 200 stores in Massachusetts, northern Connecticut and Rhode Island—putting it in the digester and