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Earth Day Helps Drive Green Efforts at Supermarkets

inthelooplogoEarth Day is driving green efforts at several supermarkets around the nation, ranging from recycling paper goods and promoting the use of reusable bags to designing energy-efficient stores.

Whole Foods Market claims to be the first national retailer to produce all of its national in-store Earth Month materials using “third generation” closed-loop recycled papers thanks to the help of Mohawk Fine Papers Inc. “Closed-loop” means that Whole Foods Market has recycled and reused its own paper for zero waste.

“Third-generation” refers to using the same fibers to manufacture paper three separate times. Mohawk took the recycled fiber and manufactured it as 100-percent post-consumer waste paper, which was used by Whole Foods Market, then once again recycled and re-manufactured by Mohawk into 100-percent post-consumer waste paper, which is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

The savings are significant according to Mohawk’s Environmental Calculator:

  • 192 trees preserved for future use
  • 554.42 pounds of waterborne waste not created
  • 81,557 gallons of wastewater flow saved
  • 9,024 pounds of solid waste not generated
  • 17,768 pounds of greenhouse gases prevented
  • 136,000,000 BTUs energy not consumed

In addition, Mohawk manufactured the paper with wind-generated electricity for an additional savings: 9,232 pounds of air emissions were not generated.

Several supermarkets are celebrating Earth Day in other ways. For example, Texas-based H-E-B will provide customers with coupons for reusable bags in exchange for five plastic bags, reported the Community Impact Newspaper. The company plans to give away 300,000 reusable bags statewide while recycling 1.5 million plastic bags.

H-E-B customers are also encouraged to bring in other thin plastics to recycle in bins placed in front of the stores. Newspaper sleeves, dry-cleaning bags, six-pack soda-can rings and other thin plastic packaging brought in will be recycled into plastic lumber.

In California, Raley’s grand opening celebration of its green grocery store in the Petaluma Plaza shopping center will take place on Earth Day, reported Petaluma360.com. The grocery store is the second in the nation to receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gold-Level Certification through the EPA’s GreenChill Partnership.

The state-of-the-art store will use 40 percent less refrigerant for its cooling systems than typical supermarkets, and also uses a high-efficiency dual-medium condenser, a device that reduces the store’s water usage by 85,000 gallons per month. Other “green” features include ceiling skylights, induction lighting and LED lights in track lighting and freezer cases.

Raley’s joined the EPA’s GreenChill Partnership in January 2009. The number of greener stores is on the rise in part due to the EPA program.

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