Blog Post

The supermarket industry in Massachusetts has long been a leader in diverting wasted food from disposal. Recent media coverage highlights successful food recovery efforts conducted by three grocery chains with locations in Massachusetts: Hannaford Supermarkets, Stop & Shop and Whole Foods Market. These grocery retailers, as well as many others, employ strategies across the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy to greatly reduce or even eliminate disposal of wasted food. These strategies include preventing waste, donating edible items, and source separating food for diversion to animal feed, anaerobic digestion (AD), and composting.  

This April, Hannaford Supermarkets announced that in 2020 the retailer met a goal of diverting all wasted food from disposal. NBC10 Boston News reports that Hannaford Supermarkets donated 25 million pounds of surplus food to pantries in 2020. Some of the retailer’s wasted food is sent to farms for animal feed. The rest is hauled to Agri-Cycle Energy, an AD facility in Maine, which converts wasted food and manure into energy, animal bedding, and fertilizer.

As reported by The Produce News, Stop & Shop is piloting a new food waste prevention app at four stores in the Worcester area. The app, Flashfood, offers shoppers access to exclusive discounts on items nearing their best-by date to help ensure perishable foods like meat, seafood, dairy, deli, and bakery are sold before spoiling. Meanwhile, Stop & Shop’s Green Energy Facility, an AD unit the company operates in Freetown, celebrated its fifth anniversary in April. Waste Today reports that the facility has processed 130,000 tons of inedible food from the retailer’s stores into enough energy to power more than 3,300 homes for a year.

Recently highlighted in a Waste Today Magazine article, Whole Foods Market also works across the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy to handle wasted food in line with the company’s larger vision for nurturing a healthy planet. Staff at all Whole Foods stores are trained to reduce wasted food at the source by honing ordering and preparation techniques, and tracking whether items are sold, donated, or spoiled to help inform procurement decisions. The retailer works with Food Donation Connection to tap into a network of food rescue agencies, streamlining communications and food donation pick-ups, while also expanding the range of surplus food donated. In Massachusetts, many Whole Foods locations use a Grind2Energy system to turn remaining food waste into a pulp that is stored in an on-site tank, then hauled to AD facilities on dairy farms.

RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks), assists businesses and institutions with waste reduction, recycling, reuse and food recovery. RecyclingWorks offers sector-specific guidance for supermarkets as well as a guide to help food retailers reduce waste from takeout and delivery meals. Learn more about how Whole Foods Market donates food from the RecyclingWorks video case study on Food Donation! To speak to a RecyclingWorks recycling expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at