Working To Reduce Our Waste Footprint Every Day
In 2013, we committed to a Zero Waste philosophy, which means we strive to divert 90% or more of our waste from the landfill. So far this year, seven of our stores have conducted waste audits with an average diversion rate of 80%. We also want to help our customers in their efforts to eliminate unnecessary waste in their lives as well, which we used to do through collection at our stores. But then in 2017, the global recycling market changed, ending our ability to collect difficult-to-recycle items from our customers. As such, we have had to rethink about how we can impact our waste footprint in new ways, beyond recycling, like:
• Educating and retraining staff on the new recycling protocol.
• Packaging education and exploration of options for the future.
• Looking for opportunities to shift consumer options in the shopping experience.
The increase in food packaging nationwide is a response to demand from consumers for convenience and portability. At the most basic level, packaging is used because food is grown and produced in one place and consumed in another. Harvesting, processing, storing, transporting, retailing, and avoiding food waste all requires packaging. On average, many times more energy and resources go into the food inside the packaging than the packaging itself.
Packaging use and user disposal is important, but in judging packaging, it’s important to consider other stages besides where the packaging ends up after it leaves the consumer. Is it the product manufactured overseas? Made using recycled or raw materials? Is it reusable? How much water or energy goes into making the item? Is it made from GMO corn? Is there a local facility for it to be composted or recycled? For example, Portland does not have a facility accepting compostable packaging, but Seattle does.
At New Seasons Market, we have used the Sustainable Packaging Coalition Guidelines as a frame for looking at our packaging and plan to do so again when we revaluate packaging in spring. Seeking a sustainable packaging solution is something we are committed to, but it is a constantly moving target influenced by the variables around it. For example: our clamshell packaging was a great choice, until the recycling market for it changed.
Check out this helpful video on what you can recycle and where.
• We continue to work on tools and partnerships to share information and options about how to integrate more reducing, reusing, and recycling into shopping.
• We’re collecting great ideas from staff and customers and implementing them whenever we can, like introducing GoBox in our stores, and our Recycling Drives where customers bring in hard-to-recycle items.
• We’ll continue to divert as much waste we can and will invite customers to join us when possible.
We seek to support customers in being conscious consumers and choosing what’s right for them, whether it’s bulk greens in reusable bags for a salad tonight, or in a clamshell that they know will keep for the week. After all, whatever you choose, you’re welcome here!
Psst: Looking for email receipts? Sign up at the pin pad at any store!