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    Wakefern Gets Garden State Green Award

    Extensive sustainability practices at the co-op netted it the honor.

    Wakefern Food Corp., the Keasbey, N.J.-based co-op whose members operate supermarkets under the ShopRite banner, has won this year’s Garden State Green Award in the Corporate Citizen category. The corporate award honors organizations with significant positive impact on the environment through their daily business practices.

    The Garden State Green Award presentation was part of the N.J. Chamber of Commerce Garden State Greenfest and the annual PSEG Global Green Expo, which were held Oct. 1 through Oct. 3 in Somerset. The two events showcase a wide variety of sustainability issues, including those affecting lifestyle, home and garden, construction, business and energy.

    On Oct. 1 Karen Meleta, Wakefern’s VP consumer and corporate communications, accepted award from actor and environmental activist Ed Begley Jr. at the N.J. State Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

    Wakefern/ShopRite earned the award by introducing such initiatives as reducing the number of shopping bags in store and making more reusable bags available. In the last two years, ShopRite customers reused more than 70 million bags, which were diverted from landfills, and last year, the co-op recycled almost 1110, 0000 tons of cardboard, plastic film, bags, newspaper, office paper and metal.

    “We have our own recycling center in Elizabeth, N.J., which is helpful in this regard,” noted Meleta. The company is also currently considering the best options for composting, including regional composting where available, and on-site digesters.

    Additionally, several ShopRite stores are transitioning to energy-efficient lighting, and the co-op is offering sustainable seafood, training store associates, and providing customers with information on eco-friendly initiatives.

    “Sustainability is a journey,” continued Meleta. “There is no way to totally change all of your practices in the blink of an eye, but there are ways to take very strategic measures to achieve these goals in all areas of operations.”

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