Supervalu Inc. (NYSE: SVU), which owns Albertson's supermarkets, announced it will transition 40 stores to zero waste operations by the end of February 2012.
The commitment is announced in Supervalu's 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, which notes the company was the first retailer to achieve zero waste at two Albertson's grocery stores last November.
To achieve this zero waste recognition, stores must divert at least 90% of all waste from landfills - accomplished by increasing employee engagement, recycling, composting and contributing to its Fresh Rescue food bank donation program.
"Our commitment to significantly increase the number of zero waste stores is part of a long-term strategy for Supervalu to be a leader in the area of environmental sustainability," says Andy Herring, executive vice president, real estate, market development and legal. "At the same time, we are committed to these projects because we've also seen that they make a positive financial impact on our business, a true win-win."
This year, Supervalu made more money selling recyclables than it paid to dump them in landfills for the first time. An aggressive cardboard reycling program nearly doubled revenues from the previous year, while reducing garbage fees by 12.6%. Its recycling program posted a profit to the company's bottom line.
The company's Fresh Rescue Program donates fresh items such as meat, dairy and produce that have reached their "sell by" date, but are still edible and safe, to local nonprofits. Supervalu says it donated nearly 60 million pounds of food in 2010.
Earlier this week, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a report that says roughly one-third of the food produced worldwide for human consumption is lost or wasted. Much of that waste is the result of food thrown away at restaurants and grocery stores.