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Whole Foods Turns Food Scraps into Compost!

Whole Foods is recognizing the Whole Lifecycle of food- by turning their food scraps and spent produce back to soil to grow again.

A WFM project in southern CA is taking food scraps, composting and bagging them and selling them as soil amendments to CA residents.

A much larger project is underway in partnership with Waste Management and Land and Lakes Corporation in Chicago. It’s the first industrial scale food scrap compost heap inside the Windy City’s limits. WM picks up the food waste from Whole Foods Markets and takes it to the Land and Lakes composting facility. The Illinois legislature in all its wisdom removed legal barriers in the state for composting food scraps. Now food scrap composting operations are popping up like mushrooms on a spring lawn.

The Land and Lakes program started with Whole Foods Market food scraps – and will expand to other compostables from there. The materials will become compost for landscapers, golf courses, and  farmers. Jim Cowhey, who owns Land and Lakes real estate, construction and environmental services, is also the Mayor of Lake Forest, IL. Who says there are no more farsighted politicians? The compost site is in the Harbor View area of Chicago.

The material must be free of plastics and plastic coated papers like cups and milk cartons to be high value compost and meet the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) standards for use in organic production and processing.There are 17 Whole Foods Markets in Metro Chicagoland and this model may spread across the country. Whole Foods is adapting to a new future- Florida is the last big WFM area with no composting going on.

At Whole Food Markets like this one in Evanston, IL, trash compactors are converted to ‘compost compactors’ to compress and store food scraps and organic material for composting. The material is then moved to the Land and Lakes  site where heavy equipment turns and moves the poles to  facilitate the composting process.

Currently about 60% of WFM’s waste that’s diverted is compostables. About 25% is other recyclables and 15% on average ends up in the landfill, although some stores have squeezed that down below 10%. Imagine if all North America achieved those rates. We’d be well on our way to a “closed loop”, zero waste society. You down for that?

About godsdoghowls

I'm Senior Manager for Community Engagement and Development at Greenopolis.com; a hunter and naturalist, rabbinic student and maple sugar maker, husband of Sara and father of 5 terrific children.


2 thoughts on “Whole Foods Turns Food Scraps into Compost!

  1. In the UK the councils are making everyone use Kitchen Caddies for food waste, the waste is then sent to a Bio Mass plant to turn food waste in commercial fuel. Great idea and will reduce waste going to landfill. Everyone’s a winner…

    Posted by David | September 17, 2011, 2:33 pm


  1. Pingback: Windy City Whole Foods Stores Expand Compost Program « mattermore - November 8, 2011

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