California Honors Companies for Conservation and Waste Reductions

Sacramento, CA - Efforts like recycling in the workplace and finding ways to throw less away make a big difference to the environment and add up to substantial benefits. A record number of companies earned distinction as winners of the California Integrated Waste Management Board's ninth annual Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP). The Board--the state's primary recycling agency and a part of the California Environmental Protection Agency--announced 2,347 WRAP winners in conjunction with the observance of National Pollution Prevention Week (September 17-23, 2001).

"Naming the winners of our WRAP awards is a pleasure because we're honoring California companies of all sizes for creative, workable solutions to reducing waste in the workplace," said Waste Board Chair Linda Moulton-Patterson. "Businesses generate half of the state's waste stream, so the impact of recycling and waste reduction programs at offices, factories, stores and other company locations is tremendous. The outstanding programs and practices we're seeing in the business community are impressive and are helping greatly to reduce waste disposal in landfills."

Open to businesses and private, nonprofit organizations, the WRAP awards were initiated in 1993 to recognize companies that develop innovative and aggressive programs to reduce the amount of nonhazardous solid waste they generate. Applicants are evaluated based on a range of waste reduction activities that include waste prevention, reuse, recycling, use of recycled-content products, and employee education and training. More than 6,500 WRAP honors have been awarded to date, including this year's winners, and many companies have earned the award more than once since the program started.

All winners of the Waste Board's award receive the right to promotional advertising and use of the WRAP logo, as well as a certificate of recognition. Pacific Bell, for instance, a multiyear WRAP winner, features the logo on the back of its SMART Yellow Pages and White Pages directories. Several applicants also applied for consideration of multiple sites throughout California this year and have been named as statewide WRAP winners, among them: Albertson's, Inc. and Sav-on (474 grocery and 295 drug stores honored) is one of the largest retail food and drug chains in the United States. Based in Boise, Idaho, the company currently operates 2,539 retail stores in 36 states across the United States, including the 1,049 retail stores in California operating under the Albertson's Food & Drug, Super Saver Food and Sav-on Drug Store banners. Albertson's, Inc. stands behind its environmental commitment by continuing to recycle 50 percent of its waste stream, including 318,134 tons of old corrugated cardboard and 4,788 tons of plastic grocery bags and pallet wrap. The company attributes its achievements to innovative new packaging designs such as the standard footprint produce box and waxless meat, fish, and poultry boxes, and to encouraging both employees and consumers to explore new avenues and new concepts to reduce/reuse/recycle.

Safeway (225 grocery stores) and Vons (304 grocery stores honored) are also statewide WRAP 2001 winners. Safeway is one of the largest retail grocery companies in North America. It operates 524 California stores in its Vons and Northern California Divisions. Since 1995, Vons stores have diverted their greenwaste to a composting program that converts material that was previously a waste into a valuable product: compost. This program has been expanded into Safeway's Northern California Division. Cost savings have resulted as the company experienced a reduction in waste disposal and landfilling expenses.

Last year, the two divisions diverted 81,600 tons from landfill disposal. In addition, through their recycling programs, Safeway's two California divisions diverted 147,000 tons of other materials from landfills, including corrugated cardboard, plastic, meat waste, metal, paper, and glass.

Save Mart Supermarkets (83 conventional supermarkets and 14 warehouse-style markets honored) is a retail chain that includes Save Mart, S-Mart Foods, and Food Maxx grocery stores. The company operates two very successful closed-loop recycling operations. Bakery and produce "trim" are collected from each site and taken to processing facilities where the material is converted to compost that is later sold in Save Mart Garden Shops. In addition, tons of compost have been donated to schools, churches, and city parks. In a cooperative program with Enviro-Bag, customers' plastic carry-home bags are collected by school children for fundraising. The bags are recycled into Enviro-Bag brand trash and kitchen bags and subsequently sold on retail shelves. In 2001, this recycling teamwork recaptured 235,000 plastic bags and paid $2,900 to schools, which represents a 30 percent increase over the previous year. Save Mart's multi-faceted recycling efforts have cut the company's waste disposal by more than 70 percent.

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