The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC, Quincy, Mass., opened the doors to its green energy facility in Freetown, Mass. This innovative facility will convert inedible food from the retailer’s New England stores into energy to help power its distribution center in Freetown.

The facility is expected to process an average of 95 tons of inedible food per day, an estimated 34,000 tons per year. As the food breaks down, it produces gas that fuels a generator that in turn generates electricity. The energy produced by the 12,000-square-foot facility will provide up to 40% of the 1.1 million-square-foot Freetown distribution center's energy needs, enough power to operate the facility for four months out of the year. Once fully operational, the facility will create approximately 1.25 megawatts of clean electricity.

"As a responsible retailer, one of our top priorities is reducing our environmental footprint, specifically through the conversion of food that would otherwise go into a landfill," says Mark McGowan, president of the New England division. "As part of doing business, our stores generate inedible food that cannot be donated. This inedible food will now be sent to our green energy facility where it will be converted into clean energy and used as a power source for our distribution facility."

The green energy facility houses an anaerobic digester, which uses innovative technology to turn organic material into sustainable power. Inedible food products from all Stop & Shop New England's 212 stores that cannot be sold or donated to regional food banks or local farms are transported to the facility. Then, by recreating the naturally-occurring process of anaerobic digestion, carbon in the organic material is converted into a biogas and used as a power source. The process is carried out in a contained, oxygen-free area, which does not produce any odors.

The green energy facility was created and is operated by Divert, Inc., a Massachusetts-based technology company devoted to creating a waste-free retail industry.

"Stop & Shop and its parent company, Ahold USA, are committed to energy efficiency and environmental stewardship, with a goal to achieve zero waste companywide by 2020," says Marissa Nelson, senior vice president, responsible retailing and healthy living, Ahold USA, Quincy, Mass. "The Stop & Shop green energy facility is a perfect example of our ongoing efforts to be greener in our operations."

Other Stop & Shop environmental initiatives include:

  • Diverts 88% of waste to someplace other than a landfill through donations, recycling, composting and now the green energy facility.
  • Recycles enough cardboard to save over 1.8 million trees yearly.
  • Better bagging methods have saved enough plastic bags to circle the earth three times.
  • Offers more than 200 sustainable seafood products.
  • Partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other organizations to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gases and decrease air pollution. Even its transportation systems limit fuel usage and carbon dioxide output.
  • New stores feature energy efficient day lighting, T5 fluorescent lighting and refrigeration systems with high-efficiency fan motors. The stores also utilize automatic occupancy sensors, reflective roofs that reduce heat absorption during the summer and systems that curb electric power during peak demand times.