Yes, Whole Foods Recycles

I read the article “Tempest in a Trash Can” with much disappointment. As the store team leader at the Whole Foods Market in Santa Barbara, I find the misrepresentation of facts in the article quite disturbing. Whole Foods Market’s decision to not use the City of Santa Barbara’s chosen vendor for collecting our recyclables is in no way a statement about our willingness and desire to recycle at our store. The fact that we continue to be good stewards of the environment by recycling, with whatever vendor we choose, should be sufficient in proving our desire to do the right thing. Ultimately, the point is to recycle. Should it really matter to anyone who collects it?

All of this attention is also interesting timing with regard to the coming implementation of AB341, the California mandatory recycling bill which is scheduled to go into effect in July of 2012. While the text of the bill states a goal of 75% diversion by the year 2020, Whole Foods Market Santa Barbara has documentation that we are currently exceeding that diversion rate. It further states that businesses that self-haul recycling commodities retain ownership of those recyclables. We currently self-haul cardboard, plastics, aluminum, glass, meat-rendering and food waste for composting.

Incidentally, during the process of monitoring our recycling bins to make sure that they were not being used for anything other than recyclables, we uncovered an issue with a driver who had been working for a local food bank. This driver was picking up food donations from Trader Joe’s and then dumping those items into our bins. Instead of dropping them off at their intended location. We are happy that we were able to work with Trader Joes as well as the local food bank and help to stop this kind of senseless waste of good, usable food.

While we are running a grocery store and working hard to be a responsible business in this wonderful community that I am proud to live and work in, we think there are better ways to use the power of the printed word than to create tempests in trash cans.

Bill Lombardi is the store team leader for the Whole Foods Market at State and Hitchcock

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