This Week in Sustainability

Giant Eagle ditches plastic bags, Petro-Canada finishes EV network, and Maine city bans Styrofoam.

December 23, 2019

ALEXANDRIA—Sustainability is fast becoming top of mind for convenience and fuel retailers, and at NACS Daily, our newsfeed is filled with headlines about efforts to minimize waste—of the packaging or food variety—and to reduce or offset carbon emissions. Here are some stories we’ve been following during the third week of December.

Giant Eagle plans to stop using plastic grocery bags by 2025. The Pittsburgh-based supermarket and c-store chain said it will phase out the single-use bags in a six-month pilot project starting Jan. 15 at the O’Hara GetGo convenience store on Freeport Road, the Market District store in the Waterworks shopping plaza and its Ohio stores in Cuyahoga County and Bexley before expanding the program across the chain. To encourage customers to use reusable bags, Giant Eagle will offer a limited time Advantage Card perk for its loyalty card members. Giant Eagle spokesman Dan Donovan said the company also is looking to ditch plastic straws and single-serve fresh food containers in the future. (Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Petro-Canada now has 50-plus EV fast-charging stations across the Trans-Canada highway. The Suncor Energy Co. unit has finished building out its coast-to-coast network, dubbed Canada’s Electric Highway, of DC fast chargers with both CHAdeMO and CCS/SAE connectors. The Canadian government’s Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Deployment Initiative project contributed $4.6 million in funding for the project. “With more than 100,000 electric vehicles on the road in Canada and an average of 4,000 EVs added each month, we know that this is an important step in meeting the current and future driving needs of Canadians,” said Mark Little, president and chief executive officer, Suncor. Petro-Canada operates more than 1,500 retail stations and 300 Petro-Pass wholesale locations across Canada. (Source: Suncor)

Bangor, Maine, gets a jump on a statewide Styrofoam container ban. Starting Jan. 1, the city will ban convenience stores, grocery stores, restaurants and other retailers that sell food from using polystyrene containers for food or beverages. The ban even applies to food pantries, churches, hospitals and catering providers. Fourteen additional Maine towns and cities already have similar bans. The statewide law doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2021. Bangor set the penalty for using Styrofoam food containers at $100 to $250 for the first violation in a one-year period and $250 to $500 for the second and each subsequent violation in a one-year period. (Source: News Center Maine)

Car parts made from coffee beans might soon be a reality. Ford and McDonald’s are teaming up to
produce vehicle parts from the dried skin of coffee beans. Turns out coffee chaff—the dried skin of the bean—can be converted into a durable material that can be used in vehicle parts like headlamp housings. McDonald’s is expected to direct a hefty portion of its coffee chaff in North America to Ford to be turned into vehicle parts. “Like McDonald’s, Ford is committed to minimizing waste and we’re always looking for innovative ways to further that goal,” said Ian Olson, senior director of global sustainability for McDonald’s. “By finding a way to use coffee chaff as a resource, we are elevating how companies together can increase participation in the closed-loop economy.” Varroc Lighting Systems, which supplies the headlamps, and Competitive Green Technologies, which processes the coffee chaff, also are collaborating in the project. (Source: dbusiness)

The overall U.S. recycling rate for PET bottles remains stagnant. Recyclers collected more than 1.8 billion pounds of PET bottles in the U.S. in 2018, up 5% over the prior year, according to the annual report from the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR). But the U.S. recycling rate for those bottles remained roughly flat at 28.9%, compared with 29.2% in 2017. The rate is calculated by dividing total PET bottles recycled domestically and exported by the total used in U.S. bottles. The rate has been roughly flat for years. The average over the past 10 years has been 29.6%, according to NAPCOR. (Source: Plastics Recycling Update)

Here are the top sustainable food trends for 2020. Regenerative agriculture will be a buzzword for 2020. Technomic expects the foodservice industry to use more “resource-efficient, circular practices in the name of sustainability—from hydroponic vegetable production to new ways of processing and distributing food leftovers.” Benchmark sees growing demand for sustainable packaging. The Specialty Food Association (SFA) predicts pushback from consumers on plant-based meats. “Consumers will begin to think critically about meat replacements, looking more closely at the ingredient lists, supply chains, water usage, and food safety,” SFA says. Gen Z and other values-oriented consumers focus on a company’s values and production methods when making purchase decisions, SFA says. Consumers are better educated about the food supply chain, ingredients and the environmental effects of food, Fresh Direct notes, so transparency and traceability will continue to be concerns in 2020. (Source: Food Industry Executive)

To learn more about minimizing food waste in your foodservice operations, head over to NACS Magazine to read “Waste Not, Want Not” in the August issue, and for more on plastics, see “The New Plastic Economy” in the September issue. To read what industry veteran Jacob Schram has to say about capitalizing on the EV evolution, read “EVs Ahead” in the August issue.