As part of its sustainable retailer commitment, Giant Food Stores’ Cleona, Pennsylvania, location at 481 West Penn Avenue, has become the first in the chain to reach zero waste. A recognized definition by the EPA, zero waste means 90 percent or more of a store’s total waste is being diverted from a landfill or incineration.
“It’s been a total store effort as we set up each department so it’s easy to do the right thing when it comes to lessening our environmental impact,” said Judy Knarr, Cleona Giant assistant store manager and green captain for her district. “We have associates across the store who have embraced our recycling efforts and collectively have changed the store’s culture to achieve this goal.”
Cleona associates have been incorporating recycling procedures throughout the store as well as monitoring what is sent to the store’s trash compactor so nothing gets thrown away that potentially could be recycled. This includes ensuring no cardboard is labeled as garbage, filling designated bins with food waste and scraps for organic recycling, and collecting plastic bags, plastic film, and empty pharmacy pill bottles to be sent back to Giant’s recycling center. This effort began in earnest when, in 2012, the company put a spotlight on best practices to reduce waste within stores.
Not only are the Cleona associates motivated, so are the customers.
“There are a lot of little things we do that get the customers excited and help us drive down waste at the same time,” said Andrea Doygun, Cleona Giant store manager. “For example, we clean the empty frosting containers from the bakery as well as corn crates from produce and put them out for our customers to take them home and reuse them. Every little thing counts!”
“Doing our part in caring for the environment for future generations is a major initiative for us companywide,” said Manuel Haro, VP of strategy. “To reach zero waste is a significant achievement that required the complete dedication of all Cleona store associates. Not only is Cleona the first Giant to reach zero waste, it’s also the first store among our Ahold Delhaize USA sister companies to achieve this milestone!”
Among Giant’s waste-reducing efforts is the retailer’s “Meat the Needs” program. Giant stores safely freeze and donate quality meat, which would otherwise go unused. Last year more than one million meals were donated through Meat the Needs instead of being wasted. Bread and other bakery items also are provided to regional food banks to help those most in need.
Additionally, the company saved more than 930,000 trees last year by recycling cardboard at all stores and distribution centers. Since 2011, Giant and its parent company have removed more than one billion plastic bags from the waste stream through more efficient bagging, increased usage of reusable tote bags by customers, and turning plastic bags into 1,500 donated park benches through its Bags to Benches program.