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New Seasons Market has been classified as a zero-waste company by Portland State University’s Community Environmental Services (CES). The university-led analysis calculated that the locally owned grocer diverts 92 percent of its waste away from area landfills and into something others can use.
According to the Zero Waste International Alliance, any organization with a waste diversion rate greater than 90 percent is considered zero-waste. “Achieving zero waste indicates a high level of dedication to reuse, recycling, recovery and/or reduction,” said Eric T. Crum, director of community environmental services.
“New Seasons Market’s employees have a particularly strong zero waste mindset. For a multi-location grocer to exceed the zero waste threshold, it takes every department and every employee to be committed and aware of their actions and impacts," Crum added. "For most organizations we work with, that requires a considerable effort to overhaul traditional systems and properly educate employees, but New Seasons has institutionalized smart systems not only with staff, but also with local hunger relief partners and regional haulers.”
New Seasons Market partnered with CES, a research and service unit and part of PSU’s College of Urban and Public Affairs, to assess and measure the average daily material stream generated by the company’s 12 stores.
Benchmarking its waste management and diversion efforts is part of New Seasons’ commitment to sustainable business practices. Among other benefits, the monthly greenhouse gas reductions achieved by New Seasons’ current materials management program are equivalent to removing the annual emissions from 138 passenger vehicles, or conserving 78,785 gallons of gas.
“Earning a zero waste rating recognizes years of hard work, commitment, and the constant enthusiasm we have for reducing our environmental impact," said Wendy Collie, president and CEO of New Season. "Our Green Teams continue to assess internal processes and explore opportunities to waste less, and we’ll continue to strengthen our partnerships in recycling, composting and food donations that have become the norm for our community.”
New Seasons has reduced the amount of landfill-bound waste and has shrunk its environmental footprint by using a whole systems approach. In 2007, the company began to carefully evaluate all packaging and materials used by suppliers, and added a Green Team in every store to champion sustainability initiatives and community partnerships. These combined efforts have resulted in significant reductions in the company’s greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and natural resource use.
Highlights of New Seasons Market’s zero waste efforts:
- In 2012, New Seasons donated more than 1,400 tons of edible food to hunger organizations and to staff.
- In 2007, the company began working with local produce distributors to switch from using waxed corrugated cardboard, which is the industry standard, to reusable plastic containers. The change has meant generating 95 percent less solid waste, 29 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, and 39 percent less total energy used.
- Through its waste reduction practices, New Seasons reduces its energy consumption at a level equal to conserving 34,545 gallons of gas per year.
- Ten years ago, New Seasons began accepting hard-to-recycle plastics (including plastic bags, yogurt and cottage cheese lids, and plastic clamshells) from customers to ensure that these items did not go to the landfill. As of 2012, more than 39 tons were collected from and recycled for customers.
Portland, Ore.-based New Seasons Market operates 12 stores in the Portland-Vancouver area.