Supermarket Organic Waste Recycling: 4 World-Class Examples

The United States throws out 133 billion pounds of food a year. Ten percent of that comes from grocery stores. The problem exists because grocery stores overstock, worried about under serving their customers by running out of food. After all, there’s no perfect formula for success. Store managers cannot precisely predict the amount of food they need to purchase from a distributor every time they place an order.

Unfortunately, the result of an overstocked grocery store is a large amount of organic waste—13.3 billion pounds, to be exact. European nations are making moves to divert or prevent organic waste at grocery stores. France passed an amendment in 2015 that banned grocery stores from throwing away or destroying unsold edible food. And with potential bans on food waste in landfills in Maine stimulating discussion in the United States on the same topic, many state governments are beginning to consider regulations to control this waste problem. Massachusetts has already created a ban on commercial organic waste. As a result, supermarkets are searching for strategies to comply with the new and emerging regulations, and to incorporate programs for composting food waste and supermarket organics recycling into their waste management.

Organic waste recycling is quickly becoming the standard in the Read about how grocery stores throughout the world have implemented food waste recycling into their business and sustainability plans; and get ideas for your own organics diversion program.


In the United Kingdom, Whole Foods diverts 83% of its supermarket food waste, and hopes to become a Zero Waste store this year; which means it will need to divert more than 90% of its waste from landfill or incineration. The company has an established partnership with a food bank, The Upper Room, in London, which runs a free restaurant for the homeless community. Whole Foods also composts its organic waste at local composting facilities. For the fruit and vegetables that are unfit for either sale or charity collection, the restaurant has partnered with Bio Collectors, an England-based company that collects the organic waste and processes it to become fertilizer for farms.

It’s important to be aware of the alternatives surrounding your community that can help you to implement organic waste recycling into your business model. Partnering with food banks or local farms can not only aid your business in its endeavor to be environmentally friendly, but can also positively impact your relationship with your community. Look for opportunities to implement organic waste recycling within your business and community to help foster a feeling of environmental awareness and local dedication.


HEB has established a series of Organic Diversion Programs, which have effectively kept over 25,000 tons of organics away from the landfill, redirecting it instead to composting programs or turning it into animal feed. HEB has discovered that composting facilities can cost far less than landfill access does, meaning that an investment in this new alternative to landfills saves a significant amount of money while simultaneously reducing waste and improving environmental stewardship.

Researching local composting programs that turn organic foods, like fruits and vegetables, into fertilizer or animal feed is a fiscally beneficial way to participate in organic waste recycling and increase the green factor of your business. This will save your business money by eliminating the cost of waste removal while positively impacting sunk costs by contributing to environmental friendliness.


The biggest supermarket chain in Britain, Tesco, has been known to criminally prosecute people who take thrown out food from its dumpsters. But now, ten of the UK stores are giving away unsold food every day to local charities. The company revealed that close to 30,000 tonnes (a little over 33,000 US tons) of perishable foods like fruit, vegetables, and others were thrown out from stores or distribution centers in the 2014-2015 year. To reduce this number, the company will use an app to inform partner charities of the amount of extra food available at the end of each day, and will give it away free of charge to the charities who can come collect it.

Partnering with charities is an excellent way to create a strategic alliance between your brand and another, while eliminating the waste that could go into landfills or other inefficient elimination methods. It also positively impacts your company’s presence in the press and media by creating a charitable impression. Implementing a donation method only positively affects your bottom line.


Former Trader Joe’s president Doug Rauch has created a non-profit grocery store called Daily Table, which recently opened its flagship store just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. The newly formed company’s mission is to provide healthy, low-price groceries to low-income urban areas. According to Daily Table’s website, the company capitalizes on donations and bulk discounts, selling the nutritious food from supermarket organics recycling, growers, restaurants and other sources for extremely low prices. Daily Table blends these donations with food that it also purchases from manufacturers and others to present nutritional options for low-income individuals.

While Daily Table might not be available near your business, there are definitely other options available for you to donate your unspoiled leftovers to. Whether those be at a food bank, low-income grocery store, or elsewhere, food donation is an excellent way to preserve and recycle organics more effectively.


As European countries are beginning to establish laws on food waste management, with cities in the United States not far behind, it’s safe to say that supermarket organics recycling and food waste management will become a trending topic in the next few years. While implementing a food waste diversion program may require extra time and effort, in some instances it has also been proven to be far less expensive than landfill disposal for companies.

For example, according to Food Waste Disposal, food and organic waste disposal costs approximately $25/ton, while traditional waste costs about $66/ton. Using these numbers, if a company like Tesco creates around 33,000 tons of food waste per year, then organic waste management can save over 1.3 million dollars in waste disposal expenses.

In addition, donating leftover food provides huge benefits for a store’s community, offering companies the opportunity to give back and build relationships with local aid organizations. Paired with the environmental and health and sanitation benefits, food waste recycling plays an important role in enhancing a company’s sustainability footprint and corporate social responsibility brand.

We can work with you to create a custom organics recycling and diversion program that meets your locations’ needs. Consult with our organic recycling experts to implement a supermarket organics recycling program in your grocery or convenience store chain. CONTACT US

Related links:

Restaurant Waste & Recycling Management page

Food Waste…Don’t waste what is not waste at all. 

Food Waste For Thought