By Algis Laukaitis, Lincoln Journal Star | May 8, 2015
Hy-Vee plans to recycle thousands of pounds of food and other organic waste from its 25 stores in Nebraska.The grocery chain estimates the stores will divert 75 tons pounds of organic waste from landfills each month. Excess fruit, vegetables, baked goods, solid dairy products and floral clippings will be turned into compost, biogas and animal feed.
Some Hy-Vee stores will sell the compost and others that sponsor community gardens will use it as fertilizer.
In four months, the 20 Des Moines-area Hy-Vee stores diverted more than 1 million pounds of food and organic waste from landfills and created 250 tons of compost, Hy-Vee said. In March, two Omaha-area Hy-Vee stores started the program in Nebraska and diverted about five tons of waste that month.
Employees from the five Hy-Vee stores in Lincoln trained on the recycling program on Thursday, said Whitney Brown, manager of general merchandise at the Williamsburg Hy-Vee, 6001 Village Drive.She said employees learn what organic waste can be recycled and how to properly handle it.
“Hy-Vee really promotes sustainability and that is a huge thing in our company,” Brown said.
Products that are still safe to eat and nutritious are donated to local charitable organizations.
Some of the compost may be used in a community garden directly east of the Williamsburg store, Brown said. Hy-Vee does not own the garden but has supported it with grants in the past.
Hy-Vee is the latest grocery chain in Nebraska to launch a food and organic waste recycling program. B&R Stores, which owns Super Saver and Russ’s Market, has been working with Prairieland Dairy since March to turn organic waste into compost. The dairy also picks up cafeteria waste at six Lincoln Public Schools.