Kroger Takes Out the Trash — And the Competition
Cutting Waste Cuts Costs
The national average cost of waste collection is $200 per pickup. Factors like the frequency of pickups and quantity of bins used add up over time and have the potential to eat away at a business’ profits. While fluctuations in waste management costs are inevitable, using quality waste management data can help a business reduce both costs and environmental impact.
Waste management companies exist for this very purpose. They help clients design, install, and implement waste management systems for their recycling and waste needs. These systems then lead to lower costs, higher revenue, lower carbon emissions, and positive impacts on corporate reputation.
Take a grocery store, for instance. A waste management company might install capacity monitoring and odor control systems to help the store detect and make use of produce that’s going bad. It can gather industry-specific parameters like weekly and seasonal occupancy rates or local and state recycling requirements, all to make sure that the store is optimizing its operations to minimize waste. However, as one industry leader demonstrates, none of these efforts will have any impact without data to measure progress.
Kroger and ReFED Model the Way
That industry leader we speak of is none other than Kroger. In 2012, the national supermarket chain joined the EPA’s WasteWise Program, and since then has begun transitioning all of its facilities toward zero waste. By 2020, Kroger plans to exceed the EPA’s Zero Waste threshold of 90 percent diversion from landfill. In 2016, the company had already reached 78 percent waste diversion, so it looks like it’s well on track.
To reduce waste, the company has implemented recycling programs, composting, animal feed programs, and anaerobic digestion. In 2016, the company increased the number of locations participating in food waste recycling to 1,445 and the number of manufacturing plants designated as “zero waste” facilities to 31 out of 33. This short-term progress is remarkable, but how has Kroger become a leader in waste management so quickly?
By partnering with ReFED, a nonprofit that works with organizations in the U.S. to reduce food waste, Kroger has been able to use waste management data to meet or exceed its sustainability goals. ReFED used a data-driven approach to develop its Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste by 20 Percent: a guide to help businesses, policymakers, investors, and innovators cut down on waste. Through analysis of granular data, ReFED identified its top 27 cost-effective waste reduction opportunities.
Waste Management Data Simplifies the Solution
Many of the challenges companies face with waste management can easily be solved with similar data-driven approaches. To start with, streamlined billing can help companies better understand which facilities are costing the most and therefore should take priority in waste reduction efforts. This is easier said than done, however, with over 20,000 haulers and brokers in the U.S. waste industry alone.
To make matters worse, each hauler or broker uses different billing formats and sends bills at different times for different sites. In response, some waste management companies offer clients consolidated billing, which combines billing from multiple services and vendors into one invoice. Brokers can then review and pay invoices on the client’s behalf, as well as perform audits to check for billing errors and unusual fee increases.
Getting all of a client’s waste management data into a concise, easy-to-use format is the key to moving their sustainability efforts forward. To ensure that this data is reliable, however, waste management companies need data that is timely, accurate, and standardized across providers. To learn how Urjanet can help provide access to waste and recycling data from haulers across the globe, talk to an Urjanet data expert today.
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About Zahra Deinde-Smith
Hi, I'm Zahra Deinde-Smith and I currently work as a Marketing Intern at Urjanet. My passions include history, genealogy, and hair care!