QCA Store Takes 'Going Green' to New Level - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

QCA Store Takes 'Going Green' to New Level

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The Muscatine Hy-Vee is taking part in a composting program, doing its part to keep more food out of the landfill.

It is an important environmental mission: In some cases, nearly half of the waste stream going to landfills is food waste and other organic items. Not only does that take up space in the landfill unnecessarily because the tight packing and oxygen-poor environment means that doesn't decompose like it should, it also creates methane gas, which has been linked to global warming.

Since April, though, the Hy-Vee in Muscatine has been diverting tons of its waste to a composting facility instead.

"I don't think there's anybody who doesn't want to do the right thing and our team wanted to do the right thing, and that's what we did," said Jim Simmons, store director at the Muscatine Hy-Vee.

The store has partnered with the Des Moines-based company GreenRU to place buckets in every department to be filled with everything from bones to rinds to sugar packets - all of the food and organic waste that used to go to the dumpster.

"We put anything that can be decomposed into compost," Simmons explained.

"You had to go back to the back room with the big trash can anyway so we're just doing it with a little bucket now instead of a big trash can," he added.

And those little buckets add up quickly, to enough to fill two big bins which are each hauled away twice a week. That is tons and tons of waste being diverted from the landfill.

Instead, the waste is taken to a composting facility in Eddyville, Iowa, and processed. Eventually, most of the finished product is bought by local farmers who spread the nutrient-rich soil on their fields, growing the produce we buy at the stores and completing the cycle from food to food waste to food again.

"It's just pretty neat how they do it," Simmons said.

Employees collecting the food for compost at the Muscatine Hy-Vee say it's nice to know they're making a difference:

"It helps the environment, and we don't use as many trash bags, it's less wasteful," said Robin Bishop, the store's kitchen manager. "And if someone else can use it, that's really helpful, too."

For the store, the cost to compost is about the same as having dumpsters full of waste hauled away to the landfill, but the payoff will be much bigger for the future.

"We're trying to get it to where they can take it, reuse it, and keep that stuff out of the air and out of the landfill," Simmons said.

"It's just a commitment. It really wasn't hard," he said.

Several other Hy-Vee stores in Iowa are already taking part in composting programs, and store officials in Muscatine say they're hopeful they're paving the way for other stores in the community to begin composting, too.

The Hy-Vee Mainstreet in Muscatine is already in the process of getting a program up and running there.


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