This Week in Sustainability

7-Eleven saves 2.7 million cups from the landfill; Del Monte adds story tags to fruit; and Coca-Cola says consumers still like plastic bottles.

January 31, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, VA.—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 the last week of January.

7-Eleven Australia has helped to divert 2.7 million-plus coffee cups from the landfill. The c-store chain partnered with the Simply Cups initiative in March 2018 to serve as collection sites for disposable coffee cups, which are in turn upcycled into things like reusable drink trays, reusable cups, egg cartons, outdoor furniture and road materials, among others. Simply Cups, which launched in 2017, has upcycled more than 10 million cups and aims to collect more than 100 million cups every year. 7-Eleven stores account for 632 of the 1,000 collection sites across Australia. (Source: C&I Magazine)

Del Monte Fresh Produce is sharing its sustainability story via pineapple tags. Del Monte Gold® fresh pineapple will be the first of the company’s products to get the new sustainability-facts tag. There are six unique tags in all, each touting a different sustainability fact, including statistics about wildlife preservation, recycling initiatives, responsible growth and scholarship programs in local farming communities. Since fall 2019, Fresh Del Monte Produce’s pineapple operations in Costa Rica (PINDECO division) have been certified as carbon neutral, and more than 90% of its pineapples are grown on farms that are certified “sustainably grown,” the company said in its 2019 corporate sustainability report. (Source: Del Monte Fresh Produce)

Consumers aren’t ready to part with plastic drink bottles. Coca-Cola’s sustainability chief, Bea Perez, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the soft drink giant isn’t planning to abandon all single-use plastic bottles since customers like that they are resealable and light weight. Coca-Cola has pledged to use at least 50% recycled material in its packaging by 2030. Last fall Coca-Cola announced it had joined with Keurig Dr Pepper and PepsiCo in an American Beverage Association recycling initiative dubbed Every Bottle Back, to reduce the industry’s use of new plastic to support the circular plastics economy. (Source: BBC News)

North America is boosting its plastics recycling processing capacity. The Northeast Recycling Council projects new facilities and expanded processing plants coming online in the U.S. and Canada will add 1.1 billion pounds of additional scrap plastic processing capacity to the recycling sector. This includes processing for numerous polymers and both post-consumer and post-industrial plastic. U.S. consumers recycled nearly 2.9 billion pounds of plastic bottles in 2018, up from 2.8 billion pounds in 2017, according to the National Postconsumer Plastic Bottle Recycling Report. Most plastic bottles collected for recycling are processed in the U.S., not exported, the report said. The per capita consumption of plastic bottles has been steady for the past six years. (Source: Plastics Recycling Update)

South Dakota lawmaker wants to head off piecemeal bans on plastic bags and straws. A bill in the state Senate would bar localities in the state from banning plastic straws, beverage containers, packaging or bags. Sponsored by Republican Senator John Wiik (SD-District 4), the pre-emption bill won approval this week in the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee. Sen. Wiik said potential plastics bans would strain convenience stores and small retail stores who would have to find reasonably priced alternatives. In a Facebook post, Senator Wiik said in response to criticism of his bill: “If you want to ban plastic, ban it in all if South Dakota or none, not a patchwork of municipalities. Better yet, let the market find a better way, cause paper straws aren't cutting it.” (Sources: FOX8TV, John Wiik Senator SD District 4 Facebook page and Wiikfor4 blog)

The U.S. beer industry is adjusting agricultural practices as weather patterns change. Barley and hops are the bedrock of beer, and as any farmer can tell you, good crops depend on the weather. Idaho has supplanted North Dakota as the top barley-growing state in the U.S. amid rainy conditions in the Peace Garden State. This past fall, for instance, a cool and wet spring delayed the seeding of barley, and a good chunk of North Dakota’s crop didn’t take off in time, according to the American Malting Barley Association. The Pacific Northwest is now the top producer of hops versus New York due to longer periods of daylight. The barley association works with the Brewers Association, the Hop Research Council, the Hop Growers of America and other groups on environmental stewardship projects.  (Source: SmartBrief)

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 2019 issue, and for more on plastics, see “The New Plastic Economy” in the September 2019 issue. To read what industry veteran Jacob Schram has to say about capitalizing on the EV evolution, read “EVs Ahead” in the August 2019 issue.