LANDOVER, Md. -- Giant Food here hopes to capitalize on the success of its recycling and alternate fuel programs by expanding the initiatives this year.
The retailer, which recycled 50,000 tons of paper during the 1995 fiscal year, intends to best that total next year. Giant Food also recycles about 1,000 tons of plastics annually and is currently planning a new initiative to promote aluminum recycling.
Another avenue of expansion for Giant Food's "green" initiatives calls for using natural-gas powered vehicles. Later this year the company will test the alternate fuel in a tractor-trailer for the first time.
"The state of Maryland has just created a new tax credit for companies that convert [to alternate fuels]," said Barry Scher, vice president of public affairs. "We hope to use these tax credits as we purchase additional natural gas vehicles for our company."
The retailer currently has seven vans operating on natural gas. "They're cleaner and they are more energy-efficient, but you don't get tremendous mileage out of a tank of natural gas," Scher said. "So if they're running low drivers can switch to regular fuel."
The program expansions demonstrate the retailer's commitment to the environment, he said. "We began these programs because of an environmentally conscious general public and we now have a lot of environmental activities."
Scher said Giant achieves some operational savings through its "green" programs, but the gains are often offset by the administrative and operational expenses of conducting recycling activities.
"The energy-efficient savings are there," he said. "But as for the recycling of commodities, sometimes we do produce dollars, and other times we break even, or it costs us a few dollars.
"We're involved in these initiatives because it's good business," and not expressly to gain additional savings, Scher added.