WASHINGTON — As part of a conversion that's expected to prevent 75 million pounds of carbon emissions, all of Safeway's 1,000 transport trucks will now be powered by biodiesel, Joseph Pettus, senior vice president of fuel and energy operations for Safeway, announced here last week. "We believe that we are the greenest grocer in the U.S. and maybe even the greenest retailer," Pettus told the sold-out crowd at the Grocery Manufacturers Associations' Sustainability Summit here last week. "At Safeway we've not only made green a priority, but a promise." Pettus detailed the retailer's commitment to the Chicago Climate Exchange, which involves reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5% during each of the next four years. "If we don't meet that goal, we have to buy credits, but if we exceed it, then we can sell them," he explained. "We're trying to get open-access markets for electricity. In California we've found plants that are under-utilized and not part of the utility. We've moved off of the brown utility to the new more green [plants], and we've saved money while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions." After labor, energy is Safeway's greatest single cost. To help get employees onboard with its green initiatives, the retailer declared last October energy awareness month. During that time it distributed 600,000 free energy-efficient light bulbs to its store associates. "The idea is if you can put one CFL light bulb in every house you can eliminate one power plant in every state," said Pettus. Safeway also hosts an intranet tool that allows employees to calculate their carbon footprint by entering their home energy use, the make, model and year of their car as well as their mileage. If they'd like to become carbon neutral, they can purchase renewable energy credits on the site.
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