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Tuesday, April 20, 2021
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Hannaford Supermarkets achieves major sustainability milestone: grocer sends no food waste to landfills
Hannaford donates and diverts all unsold food, is the first large-scale supermarket retailer in New England and New York to mark this achievement at every store
Zero food waste program kept 65 million pounds of food waste from reaching landfills in 2020
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 responsibility 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.
“Hannaford’s role as a frontrunner in achieving this milestone has allowed Agri-Cycle to gain efficiency of scale and provide food waste recycling services to many other businesses in towns and cities across New England,” said Bell. “Hannaford has had a significant impact not only at their stores, but on hundreds of other food waste producers throughout the region.”
As a Feeding America partner, Hannaford donates as much safe and nutritious food as possible to a network of community pantries, soup kitchens and food banks. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, up to 40 percent of all food, or enough to feed three billion people, is never consumed. Hannaford stores donated more than 25 million pounds of food, such beef and chicken; fruit and vegetables; pasta and eggs, for local hunger relief organizations in 2020.
Among the thousands of hunger relief organizations benefitting from Hannaford’s food recovery efforts is Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine, which receives regular deliveries from Hannaford.
“Hannaford has been the largest food donor to the Food Bank going back to our founding 40 years ago,” said Erin Fogg, Vice president of Development and Communications for Good Shepherd Food Bank in Maine. “Over the decades Hannaford has innovated and found new ways to support our food distribution with both shelf-stable and fresh, nutritious food and produce. Food from Hannaford stores is distributed through the Food Bank’s partner network of over 500 hunger-relief organizations, helping thousands of Mainers who are experiencing hunger.”
Additionally, Hannaford stores donate food not suitable for human consumption to local livestock farmers, who use the items as feed for cows, sheep, pigs and other animals.
“I feed 90 percent of my pigs from what I get from Hannaford. That’s a huge benefit to me, plus it doesn’t show up in the landfill. Hannaford is a more than just a grocery store. They’re a great neighbor,” said John Rowland, farmer at Bad Flash Brewing Farm in Malden Bridge, NY.
The milestone of sending no food waste to landfills is part of Hannaford’s commitment to sustainability and being Greater than Groceries™.
Leaders and sustainability advocates and experts applauded Hannaford’s innovation, leadership and commitment to impactful sustainability efforts. Here’s what they are saying:
“I congratulate Hannaford for this remarkable accomplishment and for their leadership,” said Maine Governor Janet Mills. “Their innovative approach to achieving zero food waste, in partnership with local companies, helps feed hungry Maine people, generates renewable energy, and protects our environment. It is blueprint for how Maine can reduce food waste in a sustainable, beneficial way.”
“Today’s announcement from Hannaford Supermarkets is a milestone accomplishment, which reflects the company’s vision, follow-through, and commitment to the public good” said U.S. Senator Angus King. “From feeding our hungry citizens through support for local food banks to supporting local farmers and generating new forms of energy, it is clear that this forward-thinking approach is yielding major benefits for people across Maine, with added benefits for the international effort to curb climate change. I commend Hannaford for their emphasis on long-term sustainability, and encourage other supermarkets nationwide to adopt this roadmap to reduce food waste.”
“With many families experiencing hunger due to the ongoing challenges caused by the pandemic, it is more important than ever to take steps to eliminate unnecessary food waste,” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins. “I commend Hannaford’s innovative, holistic approach to eliminating food waste across all 183 of its stores by supporting local food pantries’ efforts to help food insecure Mainers, providing farmers with feed for their livestock, and partnering with Agri-Cycle to convert additional waste into energy.”
“Food waste is one of the most pressing challenges of our time. At the federal level, I have made food waste prevention a central tenet of my climate work. I plan to reintroduce several bills this Congress to help prevent food waste from ending up in landfills. As Hannaford has shown, there are so many opportunities to recover food. I applaud Hannaford for setting the goal within each of its 183 stores to donate or divert all food waste and sending no food at all to landfills,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME), cofounder of the bipartisan Congressional Food Recovery Caucus.
“It’s great to see Maine companies like Hannaford leading the way on sustainability. Achieving zero food waste is a big deal for our natural environment, but it also presents opportunities to help provide for food insecure families in Maine and to grow renewable energy in our state,” said Congressman Jared Golden (ME). “I applaud all the Hannaford workers who have worked hard to seize these opportunities, reduce food waste in their stores, and make this achievement possible.”
“I want to recognize Hannaford Supermarkets for its forward thinking, innovative, and sustainable approach in achieving zero food waste,” said Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01). “Families throughout New Hampshire are faced with hunger and food insecurity, and the steps taken by Hannaford to donate food has resulted in millions of meals being provided to those in need. I applaud the efforts of all those involved in eliminating waste and protecting our environment.”
“Hannaford’s commitment to reducing food waste and eliminating hunger is a prime example of how organizations can work collaboratively to create widespread change,” said Manchester (NH) Mayor Joyce Craig. “I’m thrilled to recognize this milestone and am hopeful other organizations will be able to follow Hannaford’s lead.”
“Hannaford’s efforts to take concrete steps toward reducing food waste by enhancing their ordering and handling systems, as well as ensuring efficient access to surplus food to Maine families who need it, is commendable,” said Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal. “Furthermore, finding innovative ways to recapture energy and/or nutrients from food that is no longer edible demonstrates the kind of closed-loop actions we need to be undertaking to enhance sustainability in our food system.”
“The environmental benefits of reducing food waste are significant in decreasing the amount of material that would otherwise be sent to landfills where it would eventually contribute to climate change by creating methane gas,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC appreciates Hannaford's efforts to promote sustainability and help feed those in need. As more public and private entities join this important environmental and social welfare cause, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 120,000 metric tons, while building stronger, healthier communities.”
“This announcement from Hannaford marks a significant milestone in their effort to reduce food waste and sets an example of environmental stewardship for the food retail industry,” said Albany County (NY) Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “Food waste accounts for almost a quarter of the waste going into our landfills and it is critical that we take steps to reduce this number. The good news is we know how to reduce food waste and Hannaford has demonstrated that with a good plan and sustained effort we can all make a difference. What’s even more commendable is that by prioritizing food donations, Hannaford has helped reduce food insecurity during a time of such great need in our community.”
“Eliminating food waste is a necessary step for all of us to take to strengthen our communities, combat the climate crisis, conserve natural resources, and create new jobs,” said Natural Resources Council of Maine CEO Lisa Pohlmann. “It’s great to see businesses like Hannaford embracing Maine’s strong environmental ethic by taking steps to be a leader on sustainability and setting an example for others to follow.”
“It's time to follow Hannaford's lead and eliminate food waste across Maine - thanks for leading the way,” said Beth Ahearn, Director of Government Affairs for Maine Conservation Voters. “As Hannaford has demonstrated, food doesn’t have to be wasted. With informed and dedicated strategy, excess food can be diverted from landfills and trash incinerators, it can feed those who need it; it can help local farmers feed their animals and replenish their soils with nutrient-dense compost; and it can create clean, local energy.”
“Getting fresh food to people in need quickly and efficiently, while eliminating food waste, are the two major components of GBFB’s rapidly growing Retail Donation Program,” said Cheryl Schondek, Senior Vice President, Food Acquisition, Supply Chain and Volunteers at Greater Boston Food Bank. “Hannaford’s efforts in sustainability and zero food waste are a model program that others throughout the country should strive to emulate. Hannaford is not only being environmentally responsible, but they are also helping our most vulnerable residents by donating healthy food to local food pantries for immediate distribution.”
“Feeding Chittenden is incredibly grateful for the support we’ve received from Hannaford Supermarkets over the years,” said Anna McMahon, donor and community engagement manager for Feeding Chittenden (VT). “We’ve seen a 30 percent increase in food insecurity within the last year, with many recipients reporting they have skipped meals in order to save money for other necessities. Hannaford has been a champion for people experiencing hunger, establishing innovative, environmentally-friendly practices, while ensuring that vulnerable community members have meals to eat.”
“Our partnership with Hannaford through their Fresh Rescue Program is invaluable to the operations of our organization," said Pamela Hawkes, Vice President of Resource Development of New Hampshire-based Families in Transition. “Their dedication to the community and initiatives to achieve zero-waste helps us to serve more than 600 hundred meals to people experiencing homelessness each day through our dining services and provide groceries to more than 300 low-income households each month through our food pantry.”
“Hannaford has been dedicated to recovering food available for donation at its stores to help feed people in need for over a quarter century,” said Joanne Dwyer, director of food industry relations and business development representative for the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. “In more recent years, Hannaford’s fresh rescue team was created to expand the program. As a result of their focus on achieving zero waste and the daily pickups made by the Food Bank and our partner agencies, over the past five years the 44 Hannaford stores in our region have rescued more than 22 million pounds of wholesome meat, produce, dairy, and other items from going to waste, making it possible for us to provide nearly 18.4 million meals to families. The Food Bank is so grateful for Hannaford’s partnership and congratulates all for this monumental achievement.”
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as much as 40 percent of all food in the U.S. is wasted along its journey from farm to table, eventually ending up in landfills and generating harmful greenhouse gases. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. per capita waste has increased by 50 percent since 1974 and the average person throws away 250 pounds of food per year.
To learn more, view Hannaford’s no food to landfill video https://bcove.video/3ts7OgD
For more information about Hannaford’s sustainability efforts, visit www.hannaford.com/about-us/sustainability.
About Hannaford Supermarkets
Hannaford Supermarkets, based in Scarborough, Maine, operates 183 stores in the Northeast. Stores are located in Maine, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Hannaford employs nearly 30,000 associates. Additional information can be found at Hannaford.com.
Agri-Cycle, based in Scarborough, Maine is a food waste recycling company that collects food waste and partners with farm-based anerobic digesters across the Northeast to create renewable energy. Agri-Cycle is passionate about working with our customers to achieve their sustainability goals through providing transparent, reliable and effective solutions. Additional information can be found at www.agricycleenergy.com