Wakefern to use more sustainable containers in its 280 stores

Head of largest grocery co-op in U.S. says move is great for environment, customer costs

Wakefern Food Corp., the largest retailer-owned grocery cooperative not only in New Jersey but also the U.S., announced it will be using the latest models of reusable plastic containers in its produce department — a move Wakefern officials said will be good for sustainability and lower costs for customers.

Wakefern officials said partnering with companies that specialize in RPCs, such as IFCO and Tosca, will enable its stores to maximize supply chain efficiency through better product protection and temperature control. The containers also save time, space and money for shippers and allow for improved freshness with highly ventilated, foldable and sturdy designs.

Additionally, RPCs allow produce to be better stored and handled in warehouses through efficient stacking and integration with automated processes, reducing potential food loss and waste from conventional single use packaging.

Wakefern operates 280 ShopRite stores.

Robert Zuehlke, manager of corporate social responsibility at Wakefern, said the move is good for all.

“Adopting reusable RPCs is a win for our customers, our suppliers, the environment and Wakefern,” he said. “Wakefern is focused on engaging vendors whose products help drive a more sustainable future by reducing the environmental impacts of packaging, food waste and greenhouse gas emissions.”

When compared with single-use packaging, RPCs are shown to generate less carbon dioxide and solid waste. They also require less energy and use less water than their single-use counterparts.

According to the Plastics Industry Association, making new products with recycled plastics, not just RPCs, requires 66% less energy than using raw plastic materials.