WASHINGTON -- Supermarket retailers are very active in recycling and want to gain more expertise in preparing for energy deregulation, according to the "Report on Environmental Practices," published by the Food Marketing Institute here.
The Environmental Practices survey found that most or all of the time supermarkets recycle corrugated boxes, wooden pallets, meat, fat, bones, aluminum cans, white paper and cooking oil, and donate food to food banks.
"The supermarket industry has been very responsive to their communities as far as recycling and other environmentally related issues are concerned," said Tim Vogel, manager of environmental affairs for Wakefern, Elizabeth, N.J., and chairman of the FMI's Environmental Committee.
"We just don't get a lot of credit for it," he added. "People don't see the supermarkets as anything beyond the place they go to buy groceries, when in fact they are central to the community. They do a lot of environmental programs, whether they're business-related like recycling, or community-related like Adopt-a-Park."
At the last FMI Environmental Committee meeting, 11 retail chains represented 650,000 tons of recycled corrugated boxes, according to Vogel.
The study also revealed that preparing for energy deregulation is an issue of critical importance to supermarkets.
"In an industry that is so competitive and operates on a 1% profit margin, supermarkets obviously want to get cost savings wherever they can," said Carol Throssell, director of media relations at the FMI.
In addition, the report showed that most or all of the time supermarkets use energy-efficient lighting and alternative refrigerants to chlorofluorocarbons, minimize hazardous cleaning materials use, investigate opportunities to reduce energy use, and have a refrigeration-management program.
The FMI has also been working in conjunction with other industry associations on a new program to mark wax corrugated boxes so that they can be more easily separated from those that are not wax. The program involves marking the boxes with the word "wax" in English, Spanish and French.
The American Forest & Paper Association here and its box industry counterpart, the Canadian Corrugated Case Association, Toronto, as well as the Fibre Box Association, Rolling Meadows, Ill., unveiled the program at the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association meeting last month in Dallas.
The report on Environmental Practices was prepared for the FMI by the Retail Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn., and Garuda Resource Group, Minneapolis.