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Kroger Sustainability Report: Fleet Efficiency Up 9.75%

Grocery chain Kroger increased its fleet efficiency by 9.75 percent in the past year, and by 25.5 percent since 2008, according to the company’s latest corporate sustainability report.

The company uses transportation management systems to improve the use of its store delivery and inbound fleets, the report says. In 2011, Kroger equipped its tractors with on-board computers to allow real-time tracking of store deliveries en route. The company says that this allows the driver to be “more effective and make the appropriate adjustments when necessary to protect on-time deliveries.”

Other improvements come from improving “cube efficiency” – or how tightly a truck is packed with product – and increasing the miles per gallon the trucks achieve, the report says.

These efficiency metrics were raised by methods including improving the aerodynamic design of tractors and trailers; using clean engine technology; installing an automatic tire inflation system; expanding the use of multi-temperature trucks to transport frozen, refrigerated and dry goods in one haul; improving the insulation of refrigerated trucks; and standardizing top speeds and idling protocols, the report says.

In 2011, Kroger’s total carbon footprint fell around 2 percent to just over 6.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, with decreases in both scope 1 and scope 2 emissions. The report says that the company increased in both size and sales revenue over that time period.

The company’s “fugitive refrigerant” emissions fell 3.8 percent over the course 0f 2011. Over the past few years, Kroger implemented a new management reporting system that is says has improved the information available regarding emissions from such refrigerants. From this new reporting system, Kroger determined that its fugitive refrigerant emissions increased in 2010 and 2011 from previously reported numbers. Kroger says that the numbers previously reported were based on a reporting system that was not as robust as the new one implemented in mid-2010.

Despite the reduction in 2011, the company expects its fugitive refrigerant figures to increase over time as it converts grocery stores from HCFC systems to HFC systems. The company has investigated the cost and efficacy of natural refrigerants but has determined that it is currently cost prohibitive to change to such coolants.

Last year, the company began the first full year of operation of wind turbines at its Lancaster, Penn., dairy. In 2011, the turbines generated more than 5.3 million kWh of electricity. They will supply a quarter of the dairy’s annual energy needs.

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