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Imperfect Foods teams up with food tech company that extends produce shelf life


(NEW YORK) — Just in time for national stop food waste day, which took place on Wednesday, one online grocer rooted in sustainability is doubling down on its efforts to fight climate change.

Imperfect Foods recently pledged to become a net-zero carbon operation by 2030, and as part of that commitment will work with food technology company Apeel Sciences, whose natural, plant-based protective coating extends the life of produce.

The new partnership between the company that sources and delivers surplus and ugly produce that wouldn’t meet traditional grocery standards will roll out Apeel’s apples and eventually extend to other produce categories.

“Apeel’s partnership with Imperfect Foods means that Americans can get longer-lasting produce delivered straight to their door,” Apeel CEO James Rogers told ABC News’ Good Morning America in a statement. “Food waste is now understood to be a top contributor to climate change so whether choosing longer-lasting produce at your local Kroger store or ordering Apeel and imperfect produce online, consumers can easily fight waste while feeling good about lessening their impact on the environment.”

Imperfect Foods was founded in 2015 aiming to eliminate food waste by 40% each year in the U.S., and now the company’s industry-leading sustainability mission will turn inward to its operating model “in response to the soon-to-be insurmountable threat that the waste and energy use of the food industry poses to the environment.”

“Sustainability is at the core of everything we do at Imperfect Foods but we know we can do more to drive change,” Imperfect Foods CEO Philip Behn said in a statement. “To further our fight against climate change, we are committing to be operationally net-zero. We want to empower consumers to make better choices and know that the shopping decisions they’re making have a direct impact on the health of our planet.”

Imperfect Foods also has added categories since its inception to include everyday pantry items as they partner with growers and producers who share in their mission.

Getting to net-zero

The company said it will look beyond sourcing to bolden and broaden its sustainability commitment and take the following key steps toward creating a net-zero carbon emissions operation.

Waste elimination

In 2020, Imperfect Foods’ last-mile delivery emitted 12,800 fewer tons of CO2 than trips to traditional grocery stores — the equivalent of taking 2,800 cars off the road for a year — purchased 7,921 tons of post-consumer recycled packaging and saved 52,263,090 pounds of food.

In order to mitigate waste at every point of its business, and in tandem with the company’s mission to rescue 1 billion pounds of food by 2030, Imperfect Foods will have its “first facility certified zero-waste-to-landfill operational by 2022 with a total of six certified zero-waste-to-landfill facilities in operation three years later.”

Renewable energy

“Imperfect Foods is working toward converting all six of its fulfillment centers to 100% renewable power by 2026,” the company said. “Last year, the company began this transition, successfully converting their largest fulfillment center in Los Angeles to be entirely solar powered, which is the equivalent to removing 470 cars off the roads for an entire year. This mission extends beyond fulfillment centers, with the goal of having a fully electric vehicle fleet by 2027.”

Operational efficiency

By 2022, the company said it will increase regional sourcing by 15% to reduce the number of trucks on the road moving food and keep delivery orders at once a week to each zip code it serves to limit carbon emissions.

“We partnered with Watershed, the leading software platform for running a world-class climate program, to measure our carbon footprint so we know exactly which parts of our business emit greenhouse gases and from there, redesigned our business operations to reach our goal,” Imperfect Foods Head of Sustainability Maddy Rotman said. “We’ve already done a tremendous amount of work to source our products sustainably, but the time has come for us to bring that same rigor and mission-driven focus to our operating model. The grocery industry’s effects on climate change are undeniable, which was illuminated in our trend report findings, and this commitment is a crucial next step in leading the industry forward.”

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