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Five Shaw’s locations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have reached a major environmental milestone in parent company Supervalu’s zero-waste program by diverting more than 90 percent of all store waste from local landfills. The goal was accomplished through an innovative approach to recycling, organic composting and food donations, resulting in more than 32 million pounds of waste kept out of local landfills and more than 2 million meals donated to local food banks and hunger relief efforts since 2011.
“Creating a culture of sustainability is a key tenet for Shaw’s,” said Mike Stigers, president of West Bridgewater, Mass.-based Shaw’s, a division of Supervalu in Minneapolis. “We’ve made tremendous progress to reduce the amount of trash that is going to our landfills, having cut the amount in half in the last year alone. However, this is just the beginning for us, and we are excited to build on this achievement moving forward.”
The aim of the Shaw’s zero-waste program is to eliminate landfill waste from operations, with the first milestone of the initiative represented by the five locations’ achievement in waste diversion. This effort places a significant emphasis on each store’s ability to maximize recycling, food donations, organic composting and overall waste reduction. Further, every Shaw’s location is diverting all of its organic materials, soft plastics and hard plastics, as well as all of its paper and cardboard.
In November 2010, the five stores were generating an average of 745 pounds of waste each day per store; today, each store is averaging a little more than 200 pounds of landfill waste daily, a 268 percent reduction in total landfill waste resulting from these stores. As a result, Shaw’s has eliminated 1,257 full garbage truck trips annually to the landfill.
A key piece of the program is Shaw’s “Fresh Rescue” program, which takes fresh items such as meat, dairy and produce that have reached their sell-by date, but are still edible and safe, and donates them to local nonprofit organizations. Last year, the chain donated 3.3 million pounds of food that would otherwise have gone to waste.
To achieve recognition in the program, an individual store must divert a minimum of 90 percent of all waste from landfills, and set a goal to continue working toward 100 percent waste reduction. As part of the initiative, the company, which has 160 stores and about 21,000 associates in five New England states, is also inviting customers to make waste reduction a part of their daily practices, and will host a chat with its sustainability expert, Jim O’Leary on Monday, April 23 at 4 p.m. on its Facebook page.