Kroger Co. said it intends to accelerate its efforts to achieve greater sustainability by 2020, even as it noted its success in achieving or exceeding many of the sustainability goals it set for 2015.
“We intend to push faster and more accelerated improvements across all areas of our business,” Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of the Cincinnati-based chain, said. “Our annual sustainability report contains quantifiable evidence of the progress we are making.”
According to the chain’s eighth annual sustainability report issued Wednesday, Kroger’s immediate goals include establishing its first-ever water conservation targets for its stores, moving the store base to “zero waste” and attempting to source 100% certified sustainable palm oil for its manufacturing facilities.
Kroger said it is committed to reducing water consumption at its stores by 5% this year, following a reduction in water usage at its manufacturing plants last year of 61 million gallons.
The company also said it is moving toward the EPA’s Zero Waste threshold of 90% at all retail locations — a goal it expects to achieve by increasing waste diversion programs at all stores to 70% by the end of 2015, compared with 59% at 988 retail locations at the end of 2013.
The company said 27 of its 38 manufacturing facilities had achieved zero waste at the end of 2013. Kroger also said it is committed to sourcing 100% certified sustainable palm oil by the end of 2015, with three food production facilities that make products containing palm oil beginning the transition to the new program.
The sustainability report also cited Kroger’s progress in 2013 in other areas, including the following:
• Contributing nearly 73 million pounds of food and other products to more than 100 local food banks; and contributing, through food and cash donations, more than 200 million meals to families in need. Supporting organizations that feed the hungry is the chain’s top community priority, Kroger said.
• Providing $46 million to more than 30,000 schools and charitable organizations through Community Rewards, a sales-based community fund-raising program that enables shoppers to select a cause they believe Kroger should support.
• Encouraging more than 45,000 employees to participate in walking and weight-loss challenges; and investing more than $27.5 million in incentives to encourage associates to meet health-screening targets.
• Reducing energy consumption since 2000 by nearly 35%, with 557 Energy Star certified stores and 517 other stores that are eligible to become certified.
• Creating more than 40,000 jobs since 2007.
• Spending nearly $2 billion annually with businesses owned by minorities and women.
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