- In an effort to become more eco-friendly, some grocers are looking not only to reduce their food waste, but also to limit their carbon footprint.
- Giant Food Stores and Martin’s Food Markets fueling stations will soon have sustainability expert GreenPrint identify carbon-offset projects, such as planting trees or creating local greenscapes, according to Supermarket News. The grocery chains, part of Ahold Delhaize, say these efforts could neutralize carbon emissions by nearly a third.
- Walmart also announced plans to double its electric vehicle charging sites, adding several hundred stalls in 34 states, bringing the retail giant’s number of units to more than 1,000, Winsight Grocery Business reported. Some of the new stations will feature enhanced-speed chargers to reboot cars in 10 to 30 minutes. Walmart also pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
With millennials the largest U.S. consumer block and sustainability high on their list of spending priorities, it makes sense for grocers to step up their green efforts.
And many are taking proactive stances that also make for good marketing. Giant/Martin’s also has partnered with GreenPrint to work with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant 100,000 trees this year. In addition, the supermarket chain said it will divert 90% of its waste from landfills by 2020.
Walmart has started selling "ugly" fruits and vegetables, and has taken to replacing a cracked egg in an egg carton so the entire package doesn't need to be tossed — a move that has saved millions of eggs. Whole Foods’ staff sorts food waste at the retailer’s stores, and Trader Joe’s donates items to food banks.
Corporate eco-friendly efforts can make a lasting impact. About 13 years ago, Walmart said it wanted to be leader in sustainability, even making the somewhat controversial move at the time to partner with the Environmental Defense Fund. Today, those efforts have paid off for both the retailer’s bottom line and sustainability, Katherine Neebe, director of sustainability at Walmart, told the Huffington Post.
Many grocers have announced plans to reduce food waste, for both the good of the environment and their bottom line. Businesses lose a collective $940 billion annually on food waste, according to Champions 12.3, a coalition of retailers, manufacturers, advocates and government entities. Cutting back on that waste would not only appeal to eco-conscience consumers, but also potentially lower prices.
While companies grapple with the more challenging problem of food waste, it likely makes sense for them to turn to easier eco-moves such as planting trees or undertaking energy efficiency upgrades. But if they hope to become true sustainability leaders, retailers must hold themselves accountable in all areas of waste, and not simply fall back to efforts that make for good headlines.
As grocery chains look for any advantage they can get to attract consumers and keep them from flocking to their online and brick-and-mortar competitors, sustainability will likely be one of the things they turn to. But as more grocery and food manufacturers implement these measures it will be seen by shoppers as something that's part of business, and increasingly become a feature that no longer stands out in the market place.