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hannaford

How Hannaford is Handling Food Waste

By Shayne Waite

Hannaford, one of the Eastern Regional Food Chains, is doing its part in reducing food waste.

Thousands of people shop at Hannaford daily, but almost 40% of the food on the shelf never gets sold, leading to it going into the landfill. Here in Vermont, it is more regulated than other states due to our very progressive composting law. 

During a WCAX interview with George Parmenter, sustainability manager at a Hannaford based in Maine, said, “When food gets wasted, it typically goes to a landfill. Not so much in Vermont because you guys have very progressive laws about food waste bans, but most everywhere else… it ends up in a landfill.” Parmenter continued, “last year Hannaford achieved its goal of sending no food waste to landfills, and that includes all of its 183 stores in New England and New York. Hannaford says the zero food waste program kept 65 million pounds of food waste from reaching landfills last year.”

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How this works is through inventory management and pulling food that is clearly out of date or isn’t going to sell.  Over 10,000 pounds of food cannot be sold, but it still can be eaten, which gets donated to food banks across the state to feed people in need. According to State officials, most, if not all, grocery stores are sorting food waste because it’s the law.  Brian Phelps, the Produce Manager at Hannaford in Williston, says all produce that goes bad or is damaged goes into the compost bin and none of it goes into the landfill.

People should be encouraged by local stores to do their part in making sure no food gets to a landfill and also do it in their own home by composting as well.

CVU Sorting Stations Cause Confusion, which is Confusing

Ms. Sarah Clauss, CVC Environmental Correspondent

In 2013, CVU installed sorting stations in the cafeteria to separate trash, recycling, and compost. They were designed by students in EnACT (Environmental Action Club). Although all of the students currently at CVU have been using the stations since they started here, problems with sorting remain.

Grace Hemmelgarn and Tess Cloutier, the EnACT members leading the project to improve the stations and educate people about proper use, had some insights about why students have trouble knowing where to put their garbage. According to Hemmelgarn, “common mistakes include chip bags, brown salad boats, [and] wax paper.” Many of the items that confuse students come from food packaged by the cafeteria. For example, the salad containers are made from plant-based plastic, which is compostable. Since they look like typical plastic containers, however, they are often found in the recycling bin. Similarly, wax paper, which also belongs in the compost, often ends up in the trash. When a ‘batch’ of recycling or compost has an item that does not belong, the whole container is thrown away. In this way, more material ends up in landfills instead of where it belongs.

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Really, how hard can it be, people?

Since the installation of the sorting stations, EnACT has done several projects directed to improve sorting accuracy. EnACT members have conducted several “trash audits”, where students sorted waste pulled from the landfill and recycling bins to figure out commonly misplaced items. Posters were put up around the school with pictures of these items and their proper places in the stations.

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