Poverty and hunger continue to be a major problem across the country. However, in a decision that baffles and outrages many, Costco has decided that it will not allow millions of dollars worth of peanut butter to be given away. Instead, the company has ordered that the food be dumped in a New Mexico landfill.
The almost one million jars of peanut butter were produced by Sunland Inc shortly before a salmonella outbreak in 2012 the forced the company into bankruptcy. However, this peanut butter is not tainted. Accordingly, there was a request to allow the food to be donated to food banks or even sold to companies serving institutional agencies like prisons. The food has been stored in a warehouse since the shutdown and Costco had initially agreed to a sale at low cost as ordered by the bankruptcy trustee. Then however the company suddenly backed out and said that it would not accept any other course than dumping the food in a landfill.
The food is worth almost $3 million and involves 950,000 jars – or about 25 tons.
It is highly disturbing that a company would waste 25 tons of food rather than allow food banks to use the food to reduce hunger among families across the country.
Such decisions are often treated as simpler by corporate executives, though the company now faces a public relations backlash.
Chrysler has faced the same backlash when it told the South Puget Sound Community College that it had to crush a rare original Dodge Viper that had been used to teach students on mechanics. It was one of 93 such cars donated to educational institutions and considered collector’s items by car aficionados. The cars would be worth $250,000 in a museum — money that could go to education if they school did not need the vehicle for lessons. The company however dismissed the objections and said that it never said that schools could keep the vehicles:
Approximately 10 years ago, Chrysler Group donated a number of Dodge Viper vehicles to various trade schools for educational purposes. As part of the donation process, it is standard procedure — and stipulated in our agreements — that whenever vehicles are donated to institutions for education purposes that they are to be destroyed when they are no longer needed for their intended educational purposes.
Once again, I am mystified by the sheer waste of the decision. Any liability issues can be addressed by contractual restrictions and waivers — and no sale options. Why destroy these vehicles being used by schools for students to learn a trade? Costco and Chrysler clearly have the right to make such decisions but the logic (and more importantly the humanity) of the decisions escapes me.