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Tops program shifts produce approach

Each year, billions of produce items move from grower to retailer to consumer. While each member of the supply chain makes a conscious effort to improve sustainable practices – from land use to packing efficiencies to food waste reduction – there is no uniform solution for reusing or recycling the small but essential produce tag or twist tie.

In Tops’ ongoing quest to be as sustainable at every turn as possible, it recently partnered with TagBack by Bedford, a Minnesota-based company, that recycles produce tags and ties and upcycles them into other useable products. Customers can simply collect their produce twist ties, tags, and labels and deposit them in the designated box on their next shopping trip knowing they're making a difference.

“As we continue to expand out sustainability efforts, incorporating a program like TagBack simply made sense,” said Jeff Cady, director of produce and floral for Tops Friendly Markets. “We have launched the program at 12 locations across our footprint and are hopeful that we’ll continue to expand throughout 2021.”

When the tags and ties are returned to the Bedford facility, the company sorts and recycles them in-house through their equipment. Better yet, these tags then have a second life as they are diverted from landfills and are upcycled into other products.

“Within the produce industry, most sustainability goals don’t match the capabilities of the American recycling system due to varying local recycling parameters,” said Jay Milbrandt, president of Bedford Industries. “At Bedford, we have spent years searching and perfecting the best recycling equipment to reuse our own waste and target a zero-landfill goal. Now, with TagBack, we want to make our recycling systems available to growers and their retail partners.”

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