Calif. Grocers Recycled Close to 2.3 Billion Lbs of Waste in '06: Study

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California grocers recycled nearly 2.3 billion pounds of plastic, paper, cardboard, wood, green waste, and animal products in 2006, many diverting more than 50 percent of their total solid waste from landfill disposal, according to a survey conducted by the California Grocers Association.

"California grocers continue to play an integral role in the state's recycling efforts," said CGA acting president Jill Rulon. "The recycling numbers show the strong commitment of the retail grocery industry to be a part of the environmental solution in the communities they serve."

What's more, the study, the 2006 California Grocery Industry Recycling Survey, showed that the number of stores participating in recycling programs and the number of products recycled continues to grow annually, said Rulon.

"Many of our members divert more than 50 percent of their total solid waste from landfill disposal, and actively engage with their communities to encourage and assist customers in recycling various materials, including electronic devices," Rulon said. "For example, with the passage of a statewide plastic shopping bag recycling law [AB 2449 in 2006], grocery retailers along with chain pharmacies are working with consumers to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic shopping bags."

Other survey findings showed that grocers recycled:
- Over 55.7 million pounds of plastic, or roughly 17,000 pounds per store. These numbers included solid plastic, plastic film, plastic bags, and foam that can be made into items like parking lot bumpers, and plastic lumber products.
- 1.2 billion pounds of cardboard and paper, translating into over 371,000 pounds per store. These recyclables are frequently used to produce other fiber-containing products including paper, bags, and boxes, according to CGA.
- 10.8 million pounds of corrugated wax, including cardboard boxes coated with wax, a number that equates to more than 3,300 pounds per store.
- Over 640 million pounds of green waste, or 198,000 pounds per store. For the survey, "green waste" - often referred to as organic waste -- included items such as produce trimmings, unsaleable produce, and unsaleable bakery items. These items are often hauled to composting sites and made into soil amendment products, according to the study.
- Nearly 84 million pounds of rendered products, or over 25,000 pounds per store. This includes fat and bone products from meat departments recycled into animal feed, supplements, and other products.
- Almost 298 million pounds of wood pallets and scrap wood, nearly 92,000 pounds per store.

Survey results are based on responses from 1,763 CGA member grocery stores in California, representing 54 percent of the Association's California membership. The returns were extrapolated to estimate the recycling efforts of all CGA California members.

The CGA is a non-profit, statewide trade association representing approximately 500 retail members operating over 6,000 food stores in California and Nevada, as well as approximately 200 grocery supplier companies.
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