Giant Food Stores and Martin’s Food Markets have received Keep America Beautiful’s (KAB) 2016 National Community Improvement Award for Waste Reduction and Recycling. Giant/Martin’s Bags to Benches program was a key part of the Stamford, Conn.-based nonprofit organization’s Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania.
KAB’s program recognizes the best of the best among the Keep America Beautiful network of more than 620 state and community-based affiliates, leading corporate partners and individual volunteers across the country who have committed to delivering cleaner, greener and more beautiful communities.
“On behalf of all of our associates and customers, I want to thank Keep America Beautiful for this great honor,” said Tom Lenkevich, president of Carlisle, Pa.-based Giant/Martin’s. “We’re especially excited to partner with our customers who have participated in our Bags to Benches program by recycling their plastic bags at all of our locations. Every bag we recycle together won’t end up in a landfill.”
“Programs which bring together grass-roots community organizations, citizens, government and industry for the greater good is the most powerful way to create meaningful, lasting change to help end littering, improve recycling and beautify communities in Pennsylvania and across the country,” said Shannon Reiter, president of KAB, who also serves on the organization’s national board of directors.
It takes about 10,000 plastic bags to make a single park bench. Since 1997, almost 15 million plastic bags have been turned into 1,700-plus benches that Giant/Martin’s has donated to area community fire departments, churches, schools, townships, parks and playgrounds.
Giant/Martin’s has set a companywide goal of attaining zero waste by 2020, diverting 90 percent of waste from landfills and incineration through the expansion of recycling programs and food waste reduction. This and other recycling programs, including better bagging efforts and encouraging customers to use reusable bags, have resulted in the elimination of 1 billion grocery bags from the environment over the past five years.
An Ahold Delhaize company, Giant/Martin’s operates nearly 200 grocery stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, under the names of Giant Food Stores and Martin’s Food Markets.