Wakefern Food Corp. announced that it has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its efforts in food recovery and waste reduction. The 2012 Food Recovery Challenge Award for Endorsers is awarded to companies that create a foundation of innovation and achievement that can serve as a model for other organizations as they pursue sustainable business practices.
Wakefern has received this recognition for its efforts as an “endorser” in educating its cooperative members, who together own more than 250 ShopRite stores, as well as associates and customers, about the importance of sustainable food management.
Endorsers demonstrate their environmental leadership and play a pivotal role in conserving natural resources and preventing pollution by educating their constituents about the benefits of reducing solid waste.
Wakefern formally endorsed the Food Recovery Challenge in 2010 and began involving ShopRite stores in reducing food waste. A major factor that contributed toward Wakefern earning this award included the company’s Retail Sustainability Toolkit, a turnkey retail program which resulted in more than 250 stores receiving information about the EPA Food Recovery Challenge and other ways to reduce food waste. Through food bank gleaning and donation, as well as recycling and composting, the toolkit enables stores to feed families, protect the environment and, ultimately, save money. The company has also implemented an annual Earth News newsletter to educate consumers about waste reduction and retail efforts, as well as a social media plan to engage directly with customers about the benefit of its waste reduction initiatives.
Due to these efforts, 21 ShopRite stores registered for the food Recovery Challenge in 2012 alone, preventing a combined total of more than 3000 tons of food waste from ending up in landfills.
“We are honored to be recognized by the EPA for our commitment to the environment,” said Karen Meleta, spokesperson for Wakefern. “Partnering with the EPA and our ShopRite stores via the Food Recovery Challenge has the added benefits of keeping local food bank shelves consistently stocked, waste out of landfills, and builds upon our successful recycling and composting efforts.”
“It’s through innovative outreach efforts such as Wakefern’s that we are able to increase awareness of important opportunities that exist to reduce wasted food and feed people, not landfills,” said Barnes Johnson, EPA Director Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. “We are grateful to Wakefern for its continued enthusiasm, dedication, and hard work.”