Whole Foods Joins with Waste Management for Composting in Chicago

Whole Foods Market, with Waste Management Inc., has launched a composting program for eight of its Chicago area stores.

The Austin-based organic food retailer plans to convert 80 percentof its wastes into soil material for use in landscaping.

 The composting program in the Chicago area was first implemented in February in Schaumburg and Sauganash. Now it is expanding to stories in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, Deerfield, Naperville, Palatine, Northbrook and Evanston. These stores have recovered and repurposed more than 1,100 tons of food wastes, meaning that about 10 percent of wastes are disposed of in landfills, the chain said in a news release. By contrast, those eight stores used to divert only about 10 percent of their wastes.

 The stores capture out-of-date food from each of the departments, as well as from its administrative and customer service areas, and place it into a compost container at the rear of the store. Waste Management collects the container and takes it to a site in Romeoville, Ill., where it is mixed with yard wastes and, over a six-month period, converted into compost for use in landscaping.

“Prior to composting, everything went into the trash because the store couldn’t recycle it,” said Kaili Harding, marketing manager of Whole Foods in Schaumburg. “It was a learning process. Now we use only a small little bin for our landfill waste, and what used to be a large garbage compactor is now our compost compactor.”

 “Whole Foods Market is completely revolutionizing the way it handles its food waste,” said Ella Plahm, Waste Management account manager. “In working with the Whole Food Market’s team, we are helping them achieve their environmental and community objectives.” 

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