The SUPERVALU family of grocery stores, which includes Albertsons, Cub Foods, Jewel-Osco and more, just announced a new sustainability initiative – the addition of 40 new zero waste stores in the next year. The company currently operates two zero waste Albertsons stores in Santa Barbara, California but will be ramping up these efforts between now and February 29, 2012, the end of SUPERVALU’s fiscal year.

In order to receive a zero waste designation, more than 90 percent of a store’s waste must be recycled, composted, donated or otherwise diverted from area landfills. The Fresh Rescue program is one way that the targeted Albertsons locations will meet this lofty goal. As an added bonus, the program will also benefit the local community.

Through the Fresh Rescue program, meat, dairy, produce and other fresh food items that have reached the “sell by” date but are still edible are donated to area nonprofit organizations. In 2010, nearly 60 million pounds of food were donated through SUPERVALU Fresh Rescue programs across the nation.

Naturally, recycling is a big piece of the zero waste puzzle but SUPERVALU is finding that recycling can be financially rewarding as well. In fiscal year 2011, recycling revenues were greater than landfill waste expenses. The 12.6 percent year-over-year reduction in garbage expenses due to company-wide recycling programs actually helped the company’s bottom line.

For more information about the company’s zero-waste initiative and other sustainability measures, download the 2011 SUPERVALU Corporate Social Responsibility report (PDF).

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