Dominick Cingari likes talking trash.
The great grandson of Salvatore Cingari, who during the Great Depression began selling produce out of an old school bus, Dominick has helped bring the business into the 21st century with sustainability in mind. He oversees the environmental impact of ten ShopRite stores, as well as creating and implementing composting and diverting programs in 2014.
“In 2014 our ten stores began either composting or diverting for animal feed,” says Cingari proudly. “454 thousand pounds of organic material- equal to 12 full tractor trailers- was kept out of landfills.”
Two of the stores physically compost. The other eight divert the organics for animal feed. Diverting means keeping it away from landfill or incinerator. “A lot of these technologies weren’t available a few years ago,” says Cingari. “We are kind of at the forefront. I don’t know any retailers that are doing this to the extent we are.”
The family business grew, from one “Grade A” market in 1943, to become part of the Wakefern/ShopRite cooperative in 1991. Seven family members across four generations work in their stores throughout Fairfield and New Haven Counties.
The Cingari family is strong on community, and this is where their recycling efforts begin. “Our first goal,” says Cingari, “is that whatever we can donate to area food banks gets donated. Our second goal is to divert or compost and number three is garbage.”
The Cingari stores also recycled 5 million pounds of corrugated cardboard in 2014. Cingari credits ShopRite/Wakefern for helping their stores to recycle. “Since the Seventies we have had our own recycling center in Elizabeth NJ which operates 16 hours a day 6 days a week. We recycle paper bags, shrink-wrap, corrugated cardboard, newspaper, whitepaper.”
“We are very lucky,” says Cingari, noting that they send everything except compost back to Shoprite. “When a truck comes to us full, it doesn’t go back empty. Its full of recycled material. That’s an advantage we have over other companies that have to use a third party.”
The Cingari’s purchase as much local produce as they can, using a special distributor that skips the ShopRite warehouse. “It comes directly from the farms to our stores.”
“We kept 380 million bags out of landfill in the last 7 years,” he says, adding that in 2014 more than 57 million bags were reused by ShopRite customers.
“The key is to make it easy. “
Each store has people who volunteer to be on the green team. “We have little task forces out there working actively for the environment,” he says, adding that they pay their employees to get down and dirty and help in environmentally responsible programs like cleanups at beaches and rivers and parks. “Giving back is just part of the family culture.”
Cingari is excited that ShopRite will be taking part in Fairfield’s Earth Day Celebration on April 25th at Fairfield Warde H.S. The green team from the Fairfield store will be there, giving out free samples, letting people know ShopRite’s programs for reducing waste and answering questions.
“We want nothing ending up in the trash.”