Environmental stewardship means a lot to us. It means our goals for the planet are as important as our goals for people and profit. It means always striving to improve and grow our efforts. It means integrating sustainability into every part of our business, from supporting the regional food economy to encouraging customers to bring reusable shopping bags.
Discarded food makes up the largest single portion of garbage dumped in the US. As a grocery store, we are uniquely situated to help solve this problem. To reduce food waste we are:
• Donating excess food to local gleaners, food banks and hunger partners.
• Improving our tracking of food waste with technology from LeanPath. Improved measurement will also allow us to plan, order and merchandise products more efficiently and reduce food waste.
• Examining our food recovery practices to find where we can do more to impact hunger in our communities. Each store works with food banks and other non-profits in their neighborhood to prevent excess food from being wasted.
• Following the EPA’s food waste hierarchy to divert food waste in the most impactful way. With better tracking, we will even know how much we’re already diverting to hungry local families and how we can continue to improve.
From human health impacts to ocean pollution, plastic and single-use packaging are a major environmental problem. We also recognize that convenience has become a necessity in our busy culture, and as such we are working to create opportunities to reduce waste in our stores.
Here’s what we’re doing to enact change:
• Eliminating plastic straws and serviceware from all stores and offering only reusable utensils to curb waste before it starts, preventing over 400,000 straws from reaching our oceans each year.
• Partnering with Portland’s own GO Box reusable takeout containers in the deli at our Arbor Lodge, Cedar Hills, Concordia, Grant Park, Hawthorne, Sellwood, Seven Corners, Slabtown, University Park, Williams and Woodstock stores. You can also check out GO Box reusable coffee cups in our Concordia and Williams stores. With GO Box, customers can take their food or drinks in reusable to-go boxes and cups, and drop the containers back off for washing and reuse.
• Offering customer recycling stations for hard-to-recycle products at our Oregon stores, inviting customers to bring in clean, dry film, cork and Paktech plastic handles. See what recyclables are accepted here.
• Conducting Zero Waste audits for 25% of our stores, diverting 80% of waste in 2018. Waste audits reveal opportunities to reduce waste and reuse materials and promote staff knowledge.
• Using new LifeCycle Analysis software to help us make better decisions around our packaging. We hope to make some changes to our Partner Brand and Made by Us products to have a lesser impact on the environment. Recently we compared our bulk tubs with zipper bags and found that for the foods that can be packaged in bags we will reduce gHg emissions by 78%, water usage by 80%, and create 63% fewer human health impacts.
We raise the bar on operational sustainability by empowering individual participation by all of our staff. Through our partnerships and collaborations, we work to encourage practices that promote healthy soil, air and water. Here are some of the ways we’re conserving:
• Partnering with Portland’s own B-Line to offer our GreenWheels sustainable vendor delivery program, allowing small local vendors to consolidate store deliveries. In 2018 alone, we saved vendors 11,800 individual trips to our stores, avoiding 319,495 pounds of carbon emissions.
• Purchasing 100% of the electricity for our company from renewable sources, like wind and solar. By purchasing renewable energy credits in 2019, we avoided 1,293 pounds of carbon emissions, or the equivalent of removing 400 cars from the road annually.
• Updating heating and cooling systems to more energy-efficient models for our needs.
• Adding doors on our refrigerated cases.
• Installing LED lighting to help extend the life of our lighting, while reducing energy use and maintenance.
• Adding aerators on our defrost sinks that reduce water flow by 75%, and promoting refrigerator thawing to stop water from being used in the process at all.
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