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Sobeys Aims to Reduce GHG Emissions 15% by 2013

SobeysGHGSobeys Inc., a national grocery retailer and food distributor in Canada, plans to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 15 percent and total waste production 30 percent by 2013, according to the company’s first annual sustainability report (PDF).

As part of the retailer’s plan to reduce waste production, Sobeys targets a 50 percent reduction in plastic grocery bags distributed to customers, and a 5 percent reduction in private label packaging. Sobeys’ stores in Ontario have reduced plastic bag use by 72 percent, exceeding the province’s targeted guidelines for reducing plastic bags by 50 percent.

In 2008, Sobeys diverted 51,644 metric tons of cardboard, paper, plastics, organics, oils and fats, meat renderings, metal and spent batteries from landfills, which were sent for recycling, composting, or to biodiesel producing facilities. Cardboard accounted for over 73 percent and organics more than 25 percent of the diverted material.

In Ontario, 64 corporate Sobeys and Price Chopper stores diverted almost 2,700 metric tons of organics, such as waste from produce and bakery departments and meat renderings, to organic waste diversion programs, representing nearly 13 percent of total waste generated by these stores. Sobeys Ontario also diverted 102,737 liters of waste cooking oil from landfill to be made into biodiesel.

Sobeys is reducing fleet travel through the use of a computerized routing system, which has cut the Ontario region’s fleet travel distances by about 20 percent or 3.9 million kilometers in 2007. The company is also implementing several fuel efficiency initiatives.

As an example, Sobeys has installed speed limiters on the majority of company-owned and third-party fleet service providers’ vehicles, which can provide a fuel savings of up to 10,500 liters of diesel fuel per year for a typical tractor-trailer unit, according to the company.

The grocery chain is also implementing many energy conservation and environmental efforts at its distribution centers that include energy-efficient lighting, light-dimming and motion-sensor technologies, higher efficiency HVAC systems and refrigeration heat recovery systems to warm different areas of the buildings. This includes Sobeys’ new 13,650-square-meter refrigerated distribution center in Trois-Rivières, Québec, which is pending Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

The company is implementing similar programs at its grocery stores to reduce their environmental impact. These initiatives include the installation of motion-activated lighting and LED lighting in freezer cases and store signage.

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