According to The Asahi Shimbun recently, compost made from supermarket food waste helps grow vegetables on a farm in Tachikawa, western Tokyo, that are then sold at some 40 Ito-Yokado Co. stores across the capital.
Seven Farm Tokyo collects food scraps from eight Ito-Yokado supermarket outlets and transforms it into compost, which is used to help grow spinach, broccoli, turnips and other vegetables on the 17-hectare farm.
Major supermarket operator Ito-Yokado started the unique food recycling system in 2008.
The Tachikawa farm is just one of 11 Seven Farm units across Japan. It is run by 21 contract farmers and uses compost made from food scraps generated at Ito-Yokado outlets in Akishima, Higashi-Yamato and elsewhere in western Tokyo.
Seven Farm Tokyo, which is entering its fourth year, was set up jointly by the farmers and Ito-Yokado, and is expected to produce 14 kinds of farm products totalling 800 tons in fiscal 2015.
The Seven Farm brand produce from the farm has been sold at around 40 Ito-Yokado supermarkets across Tokyo.
“We operate this farm taking full advantage of its proximity to the major consumer market in Tokyo,” said the Ito-Yokado spokesperson. “We would like to market the products harvested at the farm, emphasizing its freshness.”
Ito-Yokado started up the recycling venture using food waste from its outlets in 2008 after the Food Recycling Law was revised a year earlier to set food recycling targets for each food-related industry.
Despite the company’s target of a 45-percent recycling rate of waste food, its actual recycling rate was 26.5 percent in fiscal 2008. To increase the rate, the company built composting facilities to produce fertilizer from food waste.
Compost made from food scraps was initially supplied to about 4,000 contract farmers across Japan, but the company then changed its policy and set up farming corporations with farmers near its outlets to reduce transportation costs.
Ito-Yokado’s food recycling rate surpassed the target rate of 45 percent in fiscal 2012 and reached 50.2 percent in fiscal 2014.
The company officials said that the project has helped increase the environmental consciousness of its employees as they frequently visit the Seven Farm facilities across Japan.
Farmers at Seven Farm also visit Ito-Yokado stores to see what consumers think of the produce, the company officials said.
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