Nearly 133 billion pounds of food is wasted every year in the United States and food retailers are responsible for nearly 42 billion of those pounds, according to the USDA. At Sprouts, we believe we have an obligation to respect our communities and the planet through initiatives designed to significantly reduce and divert our waste.
Our goal is to reach a “Zero Waste” threshold by 2020, which is a 90 percent waste diversion rate as defined by the EPA. This is a lofty target, so we’re constantly piloting new and more efficient ways to prevent and divert waste from landfills.
These efforts go hand-in-hand with our commitment to the conservation of our finite natural resources around the globe. Our teams are implementing programs designed to reduce energy consumption at our stores and distribution centers, which will help reduce our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of Sprouts’ most impactful programs include:
Food Rescue Program
All groceries that are no longer fit for sale but remain perfectly edible and nutrient-rich are donated by our stores and distribution centers. These donations are channeled through local hunger relief agencies in our communities, many of which are affiliated with Feeding America, the largest hunger relief organization in U.S. These agencies then distribute the donated food to people in need in our communities. Since the inception of the Food Rescue program in mid-2013, Sprouts has donated more than 43 million pounds of food to those less fortunate – that's more than 35 million meals!
Video Description: Sprouts Farmers Market Food Rescue Program
“The fruits and vegetables provided by Sprouts ensure that our food banks are able to provide people with access to a more balanced, healthy diet.” -Jerry Brown, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance
Food Waste to Farms Program
Food that is not fit for human donation is either composted or sent to cattle through Sprouts’ Food Waste to Farms program. Food donated as cattle feed provides a more nutritious diet and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. We began this program in late 2014 through a pilot of 50 stores. The results have provided us with a wealth of information, including best practices that will allow us to expand the program to more than 250 stores by the end of 2017. More than 18 million pounds of food has been diverted from landfills since the inception of this program.
Recycling and Deforestation
Sprouts stores and distribution centers recycled more than 500,000 pounds of plastic bags and shrink wrap in 2016. This plastic is converted to sustainable faux wood decking. Sprouts encourages customers to bring their own reusable shopping bags to help reduce waste. With this simple step alone, our customers prevented more than 44 million single-use plastic shopping bags from polluting our environment. We also recycle all cardboard packaging and other pulp-based shipping materials received by our stores and distribution centers, and in 2016 recycled more than 70 million pounds of material. This helps reduce deforestation and our impact on the environment.
Team-Driven Sustainability Results
We are proud to employ more than 27,000 team members who contribute to our success every day. Our in-store Green Leader program is designed to increase the conservation of energy and other valuable resources. Green Leaders at each location pilot efforts to ensure Sprouts meets industry best practices through our company-wide conservation programs described above. These initiatives would not be possible without the help of our passionate and responsible workforce.