Wakefern to ‘Drive a More Sustainable Future’

Produce departments adopt reusable packaging solutions
Wakefern ShopRite
Photograph: Shutterstock

Wakefern Food Corp.’s produce departments are going even greener. In an effort to improve quality, sustainability, and lower costs for customers, the Keasbey, N.J.-based grocer is adopting the latest in RPCs (Reusable Plastic Containers) in its produce departments.

By partnering with companies such as IFCO and Tosca that specialize in RPCs, Wakefern is able to maximize supply chain efficiency through better product protection and temperature control, says the company. The containers also save time, space and money for shippers and allow for improved freshness with highly ventilated, foldable and sturdy designs. 

Additionally, RPCs allow produce to be better stored and handled in warehouses through efficient stacking and integration with automated processes, reducing potential food loss and waste from conventional single-use packaging, adds Wakefern.

“Adopting reusable RPCs is a win for our customers, our suppliers, the environment and Wakefern,” said Robert Zuehlke, manager of corporate social responsibility for Wakefern, in a statement. “Wakefern is focused on engaging vendors whose products help drive a more sustainable future by reducing the environmental impacts of packaging, food waste and greenhouse gas emissions.”

When compared to single-use packaging, RPCs are shown to generate less carbon dioxide and solid waste. They also require less energy and use less water than their single-use counterparts, notes Wakefern. According to the Plastics Industry Association, making new products with recycled plastics, not just RPCs, requires 66% less energy than using raw plastic materials.

Wakefern says its new more sustainable approach to produce is an extension of its food loss prevention and food waste diversion practices. Last year, Wakefern donated over 5,000 tons of food to local food banks and composted more than 8,200 tons of food waste. Since the late 1970s, it has recycled more than 2.6 million tons of materials, says the company. 

Through its ShopRite Partners In Caring program, ShopRite is dedicated to fighting hunger in the communities it serves. Since the program began in 1999, ShopRite Partners In Caring has donated nearly $50 million to food banks that support more than 2,200 charities.

The largest retailer-owned grocery cooperative in the U.S., Wakefern includes nearly 280 ShopRite supermarkets in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland, serving millions of customers each week.




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