Helping the environment by the ton

A new recycling program at the Marshalltown Hy-Vee is keeping food waste out of the landfill and giving it a new life.

Hy-Vee started partnering with GreenRU of Blairsburg in May. Hy-Vee collects its own food scraps that can’t be donated to local food pantries from places like the deli, produce and meat sections and the food service area in the store.

GreenRU then transports the scraps taken from Hy-Vee to a composting site in Eddyville, where it is transformed into compost and used primarily by farmers in the state as organic fertilizer.

“Our biggest customers are local farmers,” said Chrissy Schweiger, marketing coordinator at GreenRU.

Hy-Vee is now diverting two tons a week of this food waste away from the landfill to be used by GreenRU.

“The program is working great for us,” said Ric Anderson, store director at the Marshalltown Hy-Vee. “We have been able to reduce our trash haul from our local landfill by two tons a week. The first year that should be over 100 tons taken out of the landfill.”

Other Hy-Vee stores in the state started doing this and had positive results, said Craig Manatt, manager of store operations at the local store.

Hy-Vee pays a fee for the service, but they feel the money spent pays off through helping the environment.

“It was a way for us to make a more direct effect on the environment,” Manatt said.

Schweiger said the company partners with more than 80 stores and schools in the state for this service.

“It’s definitely a growing effort knowing that food waste is one of the biggest contributors to landfills,” Schweiger said.