Don’t Let Food Go to Waste
Four U.K. supermarket giants (Asda, Morisson’s, Tesco and Sainsbury’s) were asked by Britain’s Channel 4 news to disclose their food waste figures, but only one — Sainsbury’s — provided such details.
Environmental-expert.com noted that Sainsbury’s has been open about its waste toll over the years and in 2011 launched its "20 by 20" sustainability plan to send zero waste to landfills, reduce its packaging by half and its carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2020.
Sainsbury’s, which closed last year operating 934 stores comprising 557 supermarkets and 377 c-stores, told Channel 4 news that it accumulated about 44,000 tons of food waste in 2011. It emphasized that none ended in a landfill with edible food going to charity and the rest to animal organizations or for processing through anaerobic digestion.
Tesco and Asda refused to explain why they don’t release their food waste totals. Morrisson’s called the information "commercially sensitive."
In an Earth-Day themed article, the Chicago Tribune profiled the documentary, Dive, that explores the world of dumpster-divers and the overall global food system. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, America wastes 40 percent of its food supply, more than any other geographic group.
Food waste makes up about 20 percent of the U.S. waste stream, according to the Trib. When bagged and ending in the landfill, it leaks methane, a gas that is 21 times more destructive to the ozone than carbon dioxide, according to the EPA. If composted — as only three percent is — food can produce soil enriching compost rather than methane.
Several Earth Day stories in Sunday’s papers touched on the theme by touting the merits of composting, buying smarter, and freezing instead of discarding. Earth Day themes for supermarkets were plentiful.
Several U.S. supermarkets touted their efforts around energy-conservation and many gave away reusable bags on the day. Several stories touched on the green benefits of using products that have been sustainably produced and packaged in recycled, recyclable and/or biodegradable containers. Others talked up buying local or shopping at farmers markets to avoid the carbon impact from food traveling long distances.
- Why the supermarket secrecy on foot waste? – Channel 4
- Why Supermarkets Refuse to Reveal Food Waste Figures? – environmental-expert.com
- Diving into the food waste problem – Chicago Tribune
- Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s Throwing Out Millions of Pounds of Edible Foods? – Organic Authority
- The business case for composting from Whole Foods, MGM & BofA – Green Biz
- Giant Eagle Celebrates Earth Day With Free Reusable Bag Giveaway – Giant Eagle/PRNewswire/MarketWatch
- Earth Day fitness guide: 10 ways to save the planet and improve your health – The Times-Picayune
- Earth Day: Push for local agriculture, products is growing – The Patriot News
- Family Fare’s first LEED-certified store set to open on Earth Day – mlive.com
- Six Stater Bros. Supermarkets Earn EPA Awards For Earth Friendly Refrigeration Systems – Perishable News
- Sustainability – For Earth Day From Wegmans: A 40% Recycled Content Bag, To Inspire More Recycling – Wegmans
Discussion Questions: What are the benefit to retailers in reducing food waste? Where does food waste rank on the green to-do list for food retailers?