Hannaford achieves milestone: No food waste to landfills
SCARBOROUGH, Maine – Hannaford Supermarkets today announced that each of its 183 stores donates or diverts all food at risk of going to waste, sending no food at all to landfills.
The accomplishment, which is the culmination of a decade-long effort, makes Hannaford the first large-scale grocery retailer across its New England and New York market to meet this goal. The accomplishment also highlights that Hannaford is an industry leader in managing food waste and in working to address climate change.
Hannaford achieved the milestone with a multi-pronged approach focused on first preventing food waste through strategic product ordering and management at the store level. Hannaford associates are trained on how to responsibly handle food to avoid damage and exposure to temperature variation.
Each Hannaford store also strictly follows the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Food Recovery Hierarchy, which prioritizes the rescue of surplus product for donation to food insecure individuals – generating millions of meals donated annually. Other key elements of Hannaford’s food waste diversion program include donations to local farmers for animal feed and food-to-energy conversion efforts.
Hannaford’s adherence to this process kept 65 million pounds of food waste from reaching landfills in 2020.
“The health and well-being of our planet are a top priority for all of us at Hannaford and we recognize that our role in the food supply chain comes with great responsibility,” said Mike Vail, President of Hannaford Supermarkets. “The impact food waste has on our environment cannot be overstated. When we first established this goal, it was with the greater purpose of making a real and positive impact on our communities. Eliminating hunger and food waste are essential to improving the world we live in.”
While food recovery and donation are long-established operational practices at Hannaford, the retailer fully realized the achievement of zero food waste by partnering with Agri-Cycle, a food waste recycling company based in Scarborough, Maine, to turn food unsuitable for human and animal consumption into energy.
A leader of this space in New England, Agri-Cycle’s operation includes a state-of-the-art de-packaging machine that separates expired or damaged packaged food from its container – allowing for easy recycling of food waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill due to its packaging.
Agri-Cycle regularly services Hannaford stores to pick up inedible food, which their anerobic digesters transform into electricity that is sold back onto the grid. The anerobic digestor is located at Agri-Cycle’s sister company – the five-generation family owned-and operated Stonyvale Farms in Exeter, Maine. In addition to energy, a byproduct of the process produces liquid fertilizer as well as bedding for the farm’s dairy cows, resulting in a virtuous cycle.
“Hannaford is a true sustainability champion with a deep understanding of the challenges regarding food waste recycling. Solutions are never one-process fits all,” said Dan Bell, president and co-founder of Agri-Cycle. “By taking a multifaceted approach, Hannaford ensures they are navigating the food waste hierarchy with intent, maximizing the value of their unsold food by helping to create renewable energy while protecting the environment.”
The partnership with Hannaford has enabled Agri-Cycle to expand its area of operation and make the process more accessible to other companies and organizations in the Northeast.