Kroger has expanded its one-of-a-kind Simple Truth recycling program to include all of its store brands. Last summer, the retailer teamed with the recycling company TerraCycle to develop a Simple Truth Recycling Program, a platform that gave shoppers a way to recycle flexible packages under the Simple Truth brand that weren’t traditionally recyclable. Part of the retailer’s Zero Hunger I Zero Waste initiative, Kroger has extended that partnership to include all of its Our Brands, such as Private Selection, Kroger, Comforts, HemisFares, Luvsome, Abound and more.
Shoppers of Kroger private brands can now recycle nearly 2,500 products that aren’t recyclable curbside such as potato chip bags, plastic overwrap, snack bags and more. After buying the eligible store brand products, shoppers sign up at a page on the TerraCycle site, and then ship them to TerraCycle using a free, prepaid shipping label. By doing so, consumers earn points for each package sent and can redeem points as donations to charitable organizations.
Kroger also has been working with TerraCylce and its reuse platform Loop to make some of its private brands available through the program. The Loop platform is featured in Store Brands’ latest packaging report, signaling how retailers are taking the lead on sustainability through their own brands.
Loop enables shoppers to buy a reusable package through the retailer online, gets shipped by Loop and then shoppers return it through Loop’s shipping system to get it refilled.
A TerraCycle representative previously shared with Store Brands that Loop is planning on being available in brick-and-mortar locations this year, where shoppers will be able to pick up Loop reusable goods on shelves and drop off empty containers back at the store for the refill process. This year, Loblaws in Canada joined the platform with its President’s Choice products.
Kroger also updated progress on its Zero Hunger I Zero Waste plan to help make communities free of hunger and waste by 2025.
"This past year has been a challenge for so many — especially those who are trying to provide for their families amid hardship," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "In 2020, we continued to deliver on the principles of our Zero Hunger | Zero Waste commitment, focusing on ways to support food insecure individuals and families and reduce waste across our entire organization. We have made considerable progress, and the momentum we've achieved shows that the Kroger Family of Companies is always striving for a better tomorrow."
Kroger highlighted some milestones it hit last year through the program:
Kroger directed $213 million in charitable giving to help end hunger in its communities, with the organization's total charitable giving reaching $301 million.
Kroger associates rescued 90 million pounds of wholesome food from its stores, food processing plants and distribution centers through its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Food Rescue program. While total surplus food donations declined 10% as more customers were stocking up and preparing meals at home, increased charitable donations enabled critical feeding programs in our communities.
In food and funds combined, Kroger directed a record one-year total of 640 million meals to individuals and families struggling with hunger across the country, an increase from 493 million meals in 2019.
Kroger achieved 81% waste diversion from landfills company-wide, up 1% from the prior year. The company also reduced total trash sent to landfills by 4% versus the prior year.
Kroger expanded its food waste recycling programs to 2,285 stores, up from 2,120 stores in 2019, reflecting the launch of new programs in the retailer's Central (Illinois and Indiana), Dallas and Houston supermarket divisions.
31 of 34 Kroger-operated manufacturing plants are Zero Waste facilities, an important milestone against the company's Zero Waste goals.
Kroger also donated a $2,000 grant to a local nonprofit on behalf of an associate at more than 15 particular stores where that associate helped lead waste and food initiatives. The associates are deemed a Kroger “Zero Hero.”