This Week in Sustainability

Connecticut pushes EVs, California caps EV rebates, U.S. celebrates recycling and Meijer tackles food waste.

November 15, 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 so far in November.

Connecticut proposes a goal of half a million EVs in the state by 2030. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has issued a draft report proposing a goal of 500,000 electric vehicles in Connecticut by 2030. The “Electric Vehicle Roadmap for Connecticut” calls for targeted vehicle rebates, consumer education and “electric rate design that provides incentives for off-peak charging, and increased charging infrastructure.” The draft report points out that there are 344 publicly accessible charging stations in the state and a total of 823 charging outlets. “Further investments in charging infrastructure, including fast charging, will be critical,” the report said. (Source: Westfaironline)

California will end rebates for EVs priced over $60,000. As of December 3, California's Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP) is capping the rebate to electric vehicles with an MSRP of $60,000 or less (except for fuel cell EVs), limiting the rebate to one per individual (lifetime) and reducing by $500 the rebates for battery EVs ($2,000), plug-in hybrids ($1,000) and fuel cell EVs ($4,500). However, incentives will be higher for low-to-moderate-income individuals and families, who will be eligible for rebates of $4,500 for battery EVs, $3,500 for plug-in hybrids and $7,000 for fuel cell EVs. (Source: Inside EVs)

EVs are seen as good for the environment, but disposal of spent batteries is problematic. When the batteries powering electric vehicles reach the end of their usable lifecycle, they can’t be discarded or recycled like conventional batteries because they are highly flammable and contain toxic chemicals. A new study in the journal Nature says there’s lots of work to be done to find suitable uses for spent vehicle batteries. In “Recycling lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles,” U.K. researchers calculated that 250,000 metric tons, or half a million cubic meters, of unprocessed battery pack waste will result when EVs reach the end of their lives in about 15 to 20 years — enough to fill 67 Olympic swimming pools. “Although re-use and current recycling processes can divert some of these wastes from landfill, the cumulative burden of electric-vehicle waste is substantial given the growth trajectory of the electric-vehicle market,” the authors said. (Sources: CNN, Nature)

NACS celebrates “America Recycles Day” with our partner, Keep America Beautiful. Keep America Beautiful urges people to pledge to reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle in every aspect of their life. Recycling innovation and partnership are themes of this year’s awareness push. “America Recycles Day educates people about the importance of recycling to our economy and environmental well-being and helps to motivate occasional recyclers to become everyday recyclers,” said Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Helen Lowman. “This national initiative also highlights how we can be more mindful about using or purchasing products made with recycled content and to do all we can to reduce contamination in the recycling stream.” NACS has partnered with the group on resources retailers can use to keep their stores and communities clean and beautiful. (Source: Keep America Beautiful)

Americans want the federal government to adopt national standards for recycling. That’s a finding of a survey of about 2,000 adults sponsored by the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Eighty-six percent of survey respondents said that the world is facing a plastic and packaging crisis, and 77% said they consider recycling a public service rather than a business, indicating some confusion about how the industry operates. Eighty-three percent believe that the plastic and packaging waste problem is an opportunity for the U.S. government to lead, and 73% don’t think enough is being done at the federal level to reduce packaging waste. The report called for strong, uniform guidelines on recycling. “The CPG industry, packaging material manufacturers, waste haulers, recycling processors, and state and local governments must collaborate with federal policymakers to find a workable solution for our country and our planet,” said Meghan Stasz, vice president of packaging and sustainability, GMA. “Without clear guidelines to empower consumers with the right information, recycling will continue to erode.” (Source: Progressive Grocer)

Curbside recycling companies see profits pinched. Depressed commodity markets are crimping recycling business revenue at the nation’s major residential waste haulers, mainly due to low prices for recovered paper, which accounts for most of curbside recyclables. Post-consumer cardboard bales are selling for a national average of $25 per ton, down from $70 last year, according to Sorted residential papers are trading at about $10 per ton, compared with about $30 per ton one year ago. Prices for steel cans, aluminum cans, PET beverage bottles and jars also are trading lower compared with a year ago. However, the price of natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from curbside collection programs has jumped. (Source: Plastics Recycling Update)

Food-industry trade associations partner with U.S. agencies to halve food waste by 2030. The Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA) has forged an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce food loss and waste through education and awareness efforts and other industry and agency-specific actions. FWRA was founded in 2011 by the Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Restaurant Association. (Source: FWRA).

Detroit-area Meijer customers can buy fresh food nearing its best-by date at a discount. In a pilot program to reduce food waste, the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based grocer is selling fresh food, including meat, produce, seafood, deli and bakery products, at up to 50% off. Customers order using an app from Flashfood of Canada, and then pick up their purchases at Meijer stores in Brighton, Commerce, Howell and Waterford, Michigan. (Source: Refrigerated & Frozen Foods)

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.