Stop & Shop to convert inedible food into energy
The retailer has opened a “Green Energy Facility,” in Freetown, Massachusetts, that will convert inedible food from Stop & Shop’s 212 New England stores into energy that will help power the company's distribution center in Freetown.
The facility is expected to process an average of 95 tons of inedible food per day, an estimated 34,000 tons per year. As the food breaks down, it produces gas that fuels a generator that, in turn, generates electricity.
The energy produced by the 12,000-sq.-ft. facility will provide up to 40% of the 1.1 million square-foot Freetown distribution center's energy needs, enough power to operate the facility for four months out of the year.
Once fully operational, the facility will create approximately 1.25 megawatts of clean electricity.
"As a responsible retailer, one of our top priorities is reducing our environmental footprint, specifically through the conversion of food that would otherwise go into a landfill," said Mark McGowan, president, Stop & Shop New England Division. "As part of doing business, our stores generate inedible food that cannot be donated. This inedible food will now be sent to our Green Energy Facility where it will be converted into clean energy and used as a power source for our distribution facility."
The green facility houses an anaerobic digester, which uses innovative technology to turn organic material into sustainable power. Inedible food products from Stop & Shop stores across New England that cannot be sold or donated to regional food banks or local farms is transported to the Green Energy Facility. Then, by recreating the naturally-occurring process of anaerobic digestion, carbon in the organic material is converted into a biogas and used as a power source. The process is carried out in a contained, oxygen-free area, which does not produce any odors.
The Green Energy Facility was created and is operated by Divert, a Massachusetts-based technology company devoted to creating a waste-free retail industry. A $400,000 grant was provided by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center for the creation of the facility.
In addition to the new facility, Stop & Shop has implemented an array of environmental initiatives, including:
• Stop & Shop diverts 88 percent of waste to someplace other than a landfill – through donations, recycling, composting and now the Green Energy Facility.
• Stop & Shop recycles enough cardboard to save over 1.8 million trees yearly.
• Stop & Shop partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other organizations to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gases and decrease air pollution. Its transportation systems limit fuel usage and carbon dioxide output.
• New Stop & Shop stores have energy efficient day lighting, T5 fluorescent lighting and refrigeration systems with high-efficiency fan motors. The stores utilize automatic occupancy sensors, reflective roofs that reduce heat absorption during the summer and systems that curb electric power during peak demand times.
Stop & Shop, a division of Ahold USA, operates 419 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.