Blog Post

River Valley Co-op is a 17,000 square foot community-owned food cooperative in Northampton. In addition to traditional grocery items, the co-op has a prepared foods section, a self-service hot bar, and an extensive bulk section. Since their opening in 2008, River Valley Co-op has implemented a variety of waste diversion programs, including comprehensive recycling and composting, food donation, and reuse of pallets and produce containers. The co-op is expanding to a second location in Easthampton in 2020, and plans to integrate the same waste management programs in addition to other green building and construction practices.

In February 2019, the co-op reached out to RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) for assistance reviewing the store’s new procurement plan to reduce single-use plastics. After a site visit, RecyclingWorks staff provided a set of recommendations, including an overview of potential alternatives to plastic packaging.

Beginning in June 2019, the co-op started rolling out a series of changes. This included replacing petroleum-based packaging with compostable alternatives; for example, the deli section has switched to non-waxy butcher paper wraps and the produce section is eliminating film plastic bags in place of compostable ones. Additionally, the co-op increased their inventory of reusable produce bags and containers, which have seen an increase in sales after being displayed in high visibility locations. The store also hung educational signage to increase customer awareness of these changes and the co-op’s sustainability goals. RecyclingWorks estimates that the store will reduce their annual single-use plastic consumption by approximately 411,000 pieces per year, amounting to about 1.37 tons of plastic diverted from the trash.

RecyclingWorks is a recycling assistance program that helps businesses and institutions maximize recycling, reuse, and food waste diversion opportunities. To learn more about our no-cost technical assistance or to speak to a recycling and food waste expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at