(As we prepare to celebrate America Recycles Day on November 15th, we’re using this week to feature voices from the value chain on important packaging recyclability issues. We’re publishing thoughts from brand owners, recyclers and others within our industry on why plastics recycling matters. Our blog series has already featured a piece from Steve Sikra, Section Head of Research and Development, Procter & Gamble. The following is authored by Patti Olenick, Sustainability Manager for Weis Markets.)
Weis Markets takes sustainability seriously. We work to educate associates and customers on the best ways to control waste, retrofit stores to be more environmentally friendly and maintain a steadfast commitment to purchase local produce within the states where we operate, supporting local growers, reducing shipping and advancing sustainable agriculture. Our supermarkets recycle more than 33,850 tons of materials a year. This includes corrugated cardboard, mixed office paper, plastic bags and film packaging wraps, and, one of the newest categories of recycling for us—grocery rigid plastics.
Why Recycle Grocery Rigid Plastics?
For us, it was an intuitive next-step to continually improve upon our culture of sustainability. We’re using the large format plastic tubs and containers to stock our delis, bakeries and pharmacies and when they’re empty, they should be recycled. It’s a program we actively promote with store associates, empowering all associates to properly implement recovery of these plastics. In 2016, our 204 stores recycled 170 tons of rigid plastics, saving our company $12,750 on trash collection fees.
Continual Commitment to Recycling
In 2016, we acquired 44 new stores, expanding the company’s footprint to 204 stores in seven states. As part of that acquisition, I’m proud to say that we’ve expanded our sustainability programs into all stores, implementing all our key sustainability practices that reduce emissions in new store design and remodels, expanding the company’s recycling center and fuel efficiency of its vehicles, and growing the Fresh Food Rescue Program. These newly-acquired stores slightly lessened the company’s carbon footprint reduction to a total of 21.8 percent for 2016, as the stores continue to be retrofitted with key sustainability measures.
Key recycling achievements for Weis Markets in 2016 include:
- Increasing recycling by more than 8.3 percent over 2015.
- Recycling more than:
- 786 tons of plastic bags and film wrap packaging,
- and 170 tons of rigid containers
- 25,600 tons of cardboard,
- 607 tons of mixed paper,
- Recycling more than:
But our commitment to the plastics recycling piece of sustainability doesn’t stop at recovering more plastics, Weis also incorporates recycled material into packaging uses recycled polypropylene packaging for meat and other items, where possible.
At Weis we’re enthusiastic about recycling and sustainability and it shows as part of our corporate culture. Our sustainability mission states that we are “committed to our customers and communities to continually adopt sustainable practices to minimize our impact on our environment today and for tomorrow.” We look forward to new ideas that help us reach even lower carbon emissions, greater materials recovery, less food waste and more recycled content in product packaging, every day.
To read about Weis Markets full environmental impact, click here.
Learn more about the Grocery Rigids Recycling Program.