In 2019 U.S. businesses generated approximately 50 million tons of surplus food – the equivalent of 80 billion meals, representing a $244 billion loss across the food service, retail, manufacturing, and farm sectors (ReFED). Food makes up over 20% of all waste disposed of in Connecticut and represents the single biggest opportunity to divert waste from disposal. Every day, businesses throw away thousands of pounds of food – and thousands of dollars – unnecessarily. Reducing wasted food can result in both avoided purchasing and disposal costs. Donating surplus food feeds the food insecure while providing tax benefits. Both strategies can also benefit the environment. One business that has successfully implemented some of these strategies is Village Market.
opens in a new windowVillage Market in Wilton, Connecticut has an extensive program to prevent and reduce wasted food. The grocery store sets strong goals to reduce waste and spoilage, provide its customers with the freshest products possible, and contribute to those in need in the community. To extend the life of products while meeting these goals, the business utilizes a handful of strategies, such as: incorporating veggie trimmings in stocks, utilizing surplus veggies in soups, turning stale bread into croutons, and using overripened bananas to make banana bread. All these efforts help Village Market cut back on ordering costs and maintain their profit margin.
Village Market and CET Join Forces
With support from a family foundation and Wilton Go Green, the Center for EcoTechnology (CET) was able to offer no-cost technical assistance to Village Market. “Wilton Go Green is focusing on educating residents and businesses on the current waste crisis in Connecticut and how we can all take steps, including food scrap diversion, to help alleviate the burden to our residents and state,” explains Wilton Go Green’s President, Tammy Thornton. “By working with Village Market, a cornerstone in our community, as our first official business to take advantage of CET’s no-cost assistance and successfully divert food scraps, we hope they can be a model for fellow residents and businesses.”
CET provided an on-site walk-through of Village Market’s facility, offered recommendations for service providers and solutions, and developed customized tools for long-term success. Ultimately, the business selected Blue Earth Compost for their food scraps collection service due to their bin washing and lining services.
Another new and exciting initiative that the Market has taken on is diverting food scraps to anaerobic digestion. Throughout the week, as they prepare food for the store, employees set aside food scraps, grease, and meat rendering in designated containers. Blue Earth Compost, a local hauler, picks up these scraps three times a week in lined carts. The scraps are sent to an anaerobic digester, where they break down and produce biogas, which is used for energy, and digestate, which has several agricultural uses. To learn more about anaerobic digestion, read this article from CET.
Currently, the store diverts one ton per week of food scraps to anaerobic digestion. That’s one ton per week of food scraps used to create valuable byproducts rather than throwing it away in the trash. By taking action to reduce food waste, Village Market is making a difference for their business, their community, and the environment.
If your business is interested in increasing its waste diversion efforts at no cost, please contact CET at (888) 410-3827 or email us at ReduceWasteCT@cetonline.org.