When we visit a grocery store, we just see tidy rows of neatly presented items waiting to be purchased. Everything appears fresh, uniform, and ready to be brought home. For this reason, it is easy to forget how much goes on behind the scenes in order to keep the grocery store looking spick and span, and what happens to food that is not purchased before its expiration date. In addition, lots of other waste is created in grocery stores simply as a product of shipping food from point A to point B.
Although there have been some troubling statistics reported in recent years regarding the amount of food waste that ends up in landfills, it is not the only way that grocery stores deal with the waste they produce. Here are some other ways it is dealt with.
1. Carefully manage inventory
Of course, the ideal situation is simply to create as little waste as possible in the first place. That means that one of the most important jobs that a grocery store manager has is the careful management of inventory. Having too much product on hand will inevitably result in additional waste and it will also cost the grocery store a lot of money.
At the same time, the store’s reputation will be negatively affected if they are constantly running out of things. Therefore, inventory has to carefully monitored and adjustments need to be made according to changing demand patters.
2. Donate food to those in need
Many grocery stores now have programs in place that help get food which is about to spoil to those in need before it has truly gone bad. Often in transit, food is lightly damaged and although it is still entirely edible, grocery stores don’t want to put it on their selves because they know that customers will tend towards a more perfect looking tomato or an unsmashed box of cereal.
Due to the fact that there is nothing technically wrong with this food other than the fact that it doesn’t rank as high in terms of aesthetic appeal, it is generally donated to local organizations where it can feed those who don’t have enough to eat in the community.
3. Create energy from waste
In recent years, programs have also been developed that help turn food waste into power through a process of controlled burning. Special facilities have trash compaction equipment that can turn items such as spoiled yogurt or expired frozen pizzas into megawatts that are then able to fuel the power grid.
4. Turn it into agriculture feed
There are also many third-party companies out there that will pick up food waste directly from grocery stores and turn it into agricultural feed. On a smaller scale, some local grocery stores even develop relationships with farmers in the area who are able to pick up waste from the grocery store and turn it into food for the animals on their farm. Due to the fact that pigs will eat just about anything, this ends up being a profitable solution for both farmers and grocery stores.
5. Final stop, landfill
Despite these innovative initiatives that have been developed, it is certainly still the case that a large portion of the waste produced in grocery stores does still end up in a landfill. This could be for a number of reasons including the fact that alternative ways of dealing with waste don’t exist in all parts of the country, or that recycling programs are simply too expensive to implement. Nevertheless, the goal should be working towards seeing more programs developed so that less grocery store waste ends up in a landfill.