Reducing Plastics

Town & Country Market’s Packaging Commitment


Plastic is widely used in the grocery industry to keep food fresh and protect it from contamination. It’s the most convenient way to hold and transport raw and prepared foods. Unfortunately, less than 10% of single-use plastic is recycled. The remainder, when not disposed of properly, pollutes our land, water and air.

Estimates calculate if we continue loading the oceans with plastic, within 5 years there will be one pound of plastic for every pound of fish. Microplastics are in the air we breathe, water we drink and food we eat. They are detrimental to human and animal health. As of 2019, the average person in the U.S. consumes a credit card’s worth of plastic each week.

For this reason, T&C is strengthening its commitment to using environmentally friendly packaging.

Town & Country Markets’ Multipart Initiative

for Reducing Plastic Packaging

 

Addressing the problem at the source:

1. Before all else, we ask if packaging is needed at all.

      • We devote a large portion of floor space to fresh produce, bulk foods, and meat and seafood service counters, instead of relying solely on prepackaged foods.
      • We secured permission from our county health departments to let customers fill their own reusable containers with bulk products.

2. We replace plastic containers with compostable (starch-based PLA #7) packaging as soon as we find functional alternatives.

      • We use only PLA compostable forks, knives and spoons in our eating areas.
        Our self-operated coffee shops use only compostable hot and cold cups, lids and straws.
      • Our delis are stocked with compostable take-out containers for soup and salad.
        Our meat and seafood departments have been using PLA compostable trays for many years.

Addressing the problem at disposal:

3. If we must use plastic packaging, then we strive to ensure it is recyclable locally.

      • For our deli, pizza, bakery and cut-fruit programs we continually review changes in municipal recycling regulations and change our packaging accordingly.
      • We are committed to ridding ourselves of the last few remaining non-recyclable packaging items, like butcher paper, as soon as replacements become available.

4. For proper disposal, we provide recycling and composting containers at all stores: outside for customers’ use, and in the departments for employees’ use.

      • Our landfill waste volumes have decreased substantially over the past decade as we improved our recycling and composting efforts.
      • We installed recycling, compost and waste sorting stations with shadow boxes to promote better waste separation in our cafés.
      • We encourage customers to recycle their plastic bags and plastic film with us. We add it to ours and ship it to Trex to be made into decking.

Addressing Styrofoam packaging:

5. We do not use Styrofoam (#6 polystyrene) packaging in our stores, except for overnight air shipments of fresh seafood.

      • We ask our vendors to not ship product in Styrofoam.
      • The small amount of Styrofoam that still comes in from vendors is separated from other waste and sent to a Styrofoam-only recycling center in Kent for reprocessing.

Addressing plastic bags:

6. At the check stands we make it easy for customers to use reusable bags.

      • We have given away tens of thousands of reusable bags to customers over the years, including swapping new bags for old ones.
      • We select the reusable bags we sell choosing materials that are more environmentally friendly, and companies that pursue improved social equity practices.

 

7. Sourcing paper bags:

      • The paper bags we choose contain at least 40% recycled content.
      • We source paper bags locally or those shipped by rail, lowering their total carbon footprint.

 

8. Where plastic bags are still needed by customers to handle wet or loose items in the departments, we stock blue plastic bags made from 100% recycled plastic – closing the recycling loop.

      • When we package produce in our markets, like oranges, we aim to use paper bags over plastic.
      • We sell several styles of reusable bags for produce, bulk and deli products.

Employee knowledge:

9. We invest in our employees with trainings covering composting, recycling and waste handling.

      • We have an online employee training program with modules on recycling and composting.
      • We have signs in our departments explaining what items gets recycled, composted or trashed.
      • We have in-store champions who address waste questions and continue training as needed.
      • We provide formal two-hour sustainability classes for all employees which cover, among other things, our packaging commitment and waste handling.

 

T&C Stewardship Core Value

Thoughtful consideration of environmental, social and fiscal impacts is critical to how we make decisions. We strive to minimize our ecological footprint, be of benefit to local and global communities, and sustain our success through wise fiscal management. As stewards, we consider how our actions today affect tomorrow’s generations. By educating ourselves, we can influence our families and communities.