Press Releases


September 15, 2009

Market of Choice feeds local gardens by diverting waste from landfills

EUGENE, Ore. – Ever wonder what happens to all that produce and prepared food that doesn’t sell at the grocery store? You might be surprised to know that much of it is hauled off to landfills, where it produces methane gas, a major source of greenhouse gases. Sad, but true.

In its effort to be a leader in the grocery industry, cut costs, and leave a smaller environmental footprint, Market of Choice is implementing a company-wide Green Waste Program that diverts food waste and other compostable materials from the landfill. Over the next few years, Green Waste Bins will be installed at each of its seven stores in Eugene, Portland, West Linn and Ashland.

Already, more than 22 tons of food waste and biodegradable containers have been composted, rather than sent to the landfill, following the installation of a Green Waste Bin at the company’s Delta Oaks store in April.

“Our goal is to divert at least 75 percent of the compostable material that leaves the stores,” said Sustainability Coordinator Scott Cook. “If we manage to divert 100 percent, we’ll save up to 46 percent in sanitation fees and lessen our impact on the environment.”

According to an August 2008 New York Times article, Americans generate roughly 30 million tons of food waste each year, about 12 percent of the total waste stream. All but about 2 percent ends up in landfills. The culprits: restaurants, supermarkets, cafeterias and the average household.

Each year, Market of Choice donates thousands of pounds of produce, bakery items and prepared foods to FOOD for Lane County’s Food Rescue Program, which distributes the food to those in need. “Those donations will continue,” Cook said. “Anything that can’t be consumed will be composted.”

Composting is not entirely new to Market of Choice. At its Willamette Store in Eugene, a new 20-yard bin replaced two Earth Tubs that have been used for 10 years to compost on site and feed local gardens with the nutrient-rich material. With the new receptacle, the store will increase its capacity from 27 tons of compostable material to 180 tons, all of which will be taken to Rexius, an industrial composting facility in Eugene.

The company’s Terwilliger store in Portland instituted a successful compost system two years ago as part of Portland Composts! Businesses Dig It, a partnership of Metro and the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Market of Choice’s corporate office in Eugene also recycles and composts.

The new company-wide Green Waste Program will be limited to employee participation initially. Once the program is more developed, it will be expanded to include the dining areas, so that customers can participate, as well. “We hope this will inspire and encourage our employees and customers, as well as other grocery stores, to compost organic materials whenever possible,” Cook said.

Additional Eco Effort Initiatives: Green Teams, LEDs, Re-usable Bags.

In addition to the company-wide Green Waste Program, Market of Choice is in the process of forming Green Teams at each of its seven stores. The teams are made up of employees who will educate and encourage other employees to minimize waste and work toward energy efficiency.

To reduce energy consumption, Market of Choice recently began installing light emitting diodes (LEDs) in its freezers, replacing energy-sapping florescent lights. These new LEDs use approximately 18-20 watts of energy, as compared to a traditional fluorescent that consumes 44-watts. In addition to their energy-saving allure, they last up to five times longer. Resistant to humidity and moisture, the LEDs perform especially well at low temperatures and put off less heat, so they’re perfect for coolers and freezers.

At its Willamette store, Market of Choice is harnessing the power of the sun. In 2008, the store increased its capacity to capture three times the amount of energy. Since the upgrade, the solar system has saved the equivalent of 71 tons of carbon dioxide.

After doing away with plastic grocery sacks at check stands in October 2008, Market of Choice has reduced the number of plastic bags reaching the waste stream in a single year by 360,000. “We consider that a huge accomplishment, one that could not have happened without the support of our customers,” Cook said.

To learn more about the Market of Choice’s Eco Efforts, visit

About Market of Choice
Market of Choice offers an extensive selection of conventional, natural, organic, gourmet and health-conscious products with seven stores in Eugene, Portland, West Linn and Ashland in Oregon. It’s food for the way you live.

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