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Kroger Reaches 76% Diversion Rate in Quest for Zero Waste

Kroger Reaches 76% Diversion Rate in Quest for Zero Waste
(Photo: In 2018, Kroger reported diverting 76% of waste across 35 states. Credit: The Kroger Co.)

Kroger reports diverting 76% of their waste last year, meaning they redirected 2 million tons of waste from landfills across their 35-state footprint. The grocery store chain is currently pursuing a strategy to eliminate waste across the entire company by 2025.

The large American grocery retailer’s initiative, called Zero Hunger Zero Waste, launched in September 2017. Kroger cites the statistic that more than 40% of the food produced in the US goes uneaten yet 1 in 8 Americans struggle with hunger as being the impetus for the company’s strategy.

Since the initiative began, the company marked several milestones. In 2018, they diverted 76% of waste, representing a 37% year-over-year increase. They also reported achieving zero waste operations in 34 of their 36 manufacturing plants, and increasing total recycling by 19% last year.

Last August, Cincinnati, Ohio-based Kroger committed to eliminating single-use plastic bags across all stores by 2025, starting with Seattle-based QFC locations. In addition, the company started a dedicated Zero Waste Zero Hunger fund that awards $1 million in grants for solutions to prevent food waste.

Beyond grant funding, the grocery retailer is emphasizing food donation. In 2018, the company provided 316 million meals to communities nationwide. They sent 100 million pounds of safe food that could no longer be sold in its retail stores or shipped from distribution and manufacturing plants to Feeding America Food banks.

Donations are a better alternative to the previous practice of discarding quality food that didn’t sell, Knoxville Kroger store manager Robin Harvey told the Knoxville News Sentinel.

When asked by reporter Erica Breunlin whether the company’s zero waste target is realistic, Melissa Eads, corporate affairs manager of the Kroger Nashville Division, responded that ending hunger and waste is “a moonshot goal” that will require a collective effort across communities.

The 4th Annual Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference is coming up next week in Denver, but there’s still time to register. We look forward to seeing you there!

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