HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Ahold USA for its efforts to reduce food waste, the agency said.
The EPA said it recognized Ahold for its contributions to the Food Recovery Challenge, which encourages organizations to donate and divert as much of their excess food as possible, which the agency said helps protect the environment and feed needy people. Ahold USA owns the Giant Food Stores of Carlisle, Pa., Giant Food of Landover, Md., and Stop & Shop supermarket banners, as well as the online grocer Peapod.
"The Food Recovery Challenge benefits families in need, helps grocers reduce costs, supplies badly needed donations to organizations like the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and helps to create green jobs," EPA regional administrator Shawn Garvin said. "Today is America Recycles Day, and with Thanksgiving just a week away, this is an excellent time to raise awareness of this important issue."
According to the EPA, food constitutes the largest category of waste in the country, with 36 million of food waste going to landfills in 2011. Decomposing food waste is a significant source of methane, a greenhouse gas. Last year, the agency said, Ahold USA donated the equivalent of more than 12 million meals and diverted 19,000 tons into composting, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 3,820 tons.
"Ahold USA and our retail divisions like Giant are committed to reducing waste and minimizing our impact on the environment, while at the same time maximizing food donations to regional food banks," Ahold USA VP external communications and community relations Tracy Pawelski said. "The EPA Food Recovery Challenge not only makes good business sense by lowering costs, but also can be a game changer for local hunger relief efforts, especially during these times of need."