EcoRI News recently described Stop & Shop’s efforts to minimize waste in its operations. The Quincy-based company is leading the way for other supermarket chains, utilizing recycling, food donation, and anaerobic digestion initiatives to reduce waste.
Each day, delivery trucks transport grocery products to more than 200 Stop & Shop stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Trucks do not return empty from the stores, instead they carry recyclable and reusable materials such as cardboard, plastic bags, pharmacy pill bottles, shipping crates, and pallets back to the one million-square-foot distribution center in Freetown, maximizing transportation efficiency. At the distribution center, these items are separated by material, bundled, and shipped out to be recycled or reused.
Stop & Shop is also actively reducing food waste by donating surplus items and processing inedible food waste using anaerobic digestion. Edible food is preserved and transported to recipient organizations such as the Greater Boston Food Bank, where Stop & Shop is the largest single food donor.
Approximately 100 tons of inedible organic materials, including expired items and flowers past their prime, arrive at the distribution center daily, where equipment is used to separate food from its packaging. Organic materials are turned into a slurry, which feeds an anaerobic digester. The digester uses bacteria to consume the food, producing gases that fuel a 1.1-megawatt electricity generator.
This process operates 24 hours a day, feeding power equal to approximately 40% of the facility’s needs back into the electric grid. The final byproduct of the digestion process is a nutrient-rich compost, which is used by a landscaping company.
RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts offers waste reduction resources for businesses and institutions such as guidance on food donation and sector-specific recommendations for supermarkets. To speak to a recycling and food waste diversion expert or to learn more about our technical assistance services, call the RecyclingWorks hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at email@example.com.