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Tops 'Ties' in Produce Department Sustainability Efforts

Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Tops 'Ties' in Produce Department Sustainability Efforts
TagBack bins will be located in the produce departments at 12 Tops locations in New York.

In its quest to ensure that even the tiniest detail of its operation is reducing environmental waste, Tops Markets LLC has partnered with TagBack by Bedford Industries to reuse and recycle small but essential produce tags and twist ties.

The program enables customers to collect their produce twist ties, tags and labels and deposit them in the designated TagBack box on their next shopping trip. Bedford then sorts and recycles them in-house using its own equipment. The tags are upcycled into other useable products rather than accumulating in landfills. 

“As we continue to expand out sustainability efforts, incorporating a program like TagBack simply made sense,” said Jeff Cady, director of produce and floral for Tops.  “We have launched the program at 12 locations across our footprint and are hopefully expanding in the year ahead.”

TagBack bins will be located in the produce departments at the following Tops locations in New York:

  • 3201 Southwestern Boulevard, Orchard Park
  • 65 Grey Street, East Aurora
  • 4250 McKindley Parkway, Hamburg
  • 4777 Transit Road, Depew
  • 2351 Maple Road, Amherst
  • 9660 Transit Road Amherst
  • 6363 Transit Road, Amherst
  • 390 W. Main Street, Batavia
  • 128 W. Main Street, Leroy
  • 2382 Route 19 Warsaw
  • 12775 Broadway, Alden
  • 150 Prospect Street, Attica

Produce tags can also be mailed back directly to the Bedford company in a small envelope or box at Bedford Industries, c/o TagBack 1659 Rowe Avenue, P.O. Box 39, Worthington, MN 56187. 

“Within the produce industry, most sustainability goals don’t match the capabilities of the American recycling system, due to varying local recycling parameters," said Jay Milbrandt, president of Worthington, Minnesota-based Bedford Industries. “At Bedford, we have spent years searching and perfecting the best recycling equipment to reuse our own waste and target a zero-landfill goal. Now, with TagBack, we want to make our recycling systems available to growers and their retail partners."

Bedford Industries designs, develops, manufactures and distributes tag and tie products for the produce, bakery, coffee and medical markets. Within the fresh produce industry, each year, the company manufactures millions of produce tags and ties for hundreds of growers. It launched the TagBack initiative in October 2019.  

Tops is no stranger to improving sustainability in its produce department. In July 2020, the retailer said it was moving from using nonbiodegradable foam trays to Earthcycle products from Canadian company CFK Inc. Made of a certified compostable, recyclable blend of virgin and wood pulp, Earthcycle products are designed to keep produce fresher 20% longer than when packed in plastic.

Williamsville, New York-based Tops operates 159 supermarkets, with five additional franchise stores, and employs 14,000 associates in New York, northern Pennsylvania and western Vermont. The company is No. 63 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America

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