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Supervalu Makes a Profit From Trash

Supervalu, the owner of Albertsons, Acme and other supermarket brands, saw its recycling revenues exceed landfill waste expenses for the first time in fiscal year 2011, according to the company’s corporate social responsibility report.

Supervalu said it reduced garbage expenses by 12.6 percent during the fiscal year, through a heavy emphasis on recycling, organic waste diversion and food donations. Its cardboard recycling initiatives nearly doubled revenues from the year before, the report said.

The retailer also reported that its e-waste collection day resulted in the recycling of nearly 30,000 pounds of personal electronic waste.

When it released the report, Supervalu announced a new goal of moving 40 stores to zero-waste status by the end of next Feburary. Supervalu is also aiming to reduce its landfill waste by 50 percent by 2012.

Already in the past year, the company achieved zero waste at two Albertsons stores in southern California.

In other reported results, Supervalu reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by weight two percent in 2010, and its emission intensity per square foot by three percent.

Mobile emissions fell by two percent and fugitive emissions by six percent, with emissions from electricity down one percent and from natural gas down three percent.

The company says it has taken aggressive steps to reduce the carbon footprint of its distribution and fleet. It has worked to maximize the efficiency of its supply fleet vehicles by routing product shipments to retail and wholesale customers more efficiently, while increasing the cubic foot of product per truck load. It has programs to educate drivers on how to reduce idle time and improve driving techniques.

Through a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, Supervalu announced plans in September 2010 to cut its absolute emissions of greenhouse gases by 10 percent by the end of 2012, with a baseline year of 2007. The partnership made Supervalu the first retailer to join WWF’s “Climate Savers” program.

Supervalu says it has redesigned refrigeration systems in new stores to use an alternate refrigerant, cutting potential emissions by up to 50 percent and lowering costs. The retailer is a member of the EPA’s GreenChill program, which aims to reduce refrigerants’ impact on the ozone layer and the climate.

In August 2010, Supervalu opened a 55,000 square foot San Diego-area Albertsons that has generated nearly 90 percent of its electricity needs with a 400 kW fuel cell. The fuel cell also generates heat that helps to offset the store’s heating loads, including hot water, and drives an absorption chiller to dehumidify the store.

The company expects the store to achieve an over 40 percent reduction in energy costs, using such features as LED lighting in dairy and frozen food doors, night curtains over open cold cases, and photo sensors in 33 skylights that sense the amount of daylight and adjust electric light levels accordingly.

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