What is in this article?:
- Sustainability Award: Unified Grocers Finds Sustainability Inspiration From Within
- California Influence
- 'Most Effective Lighting'
Additional Sustainability Awards coverage:
Unified Grocers has made sustainability improvements in warehouse lighting and forklifts.
'Most Effective Lighting'
Unified has also been installing “the most effective lighting” in its warehouses as well as motion sensors. “We’ve migrated first to mercury-vapor lamps and then to LED lighting,” Plamann said.
Unified’s IT department has developed a number of web-based systems geared to reducing the amount of paper used by the company and its retailer members. “We’ve worked really hard to encourage employees to do as much electronic communication as possible,” Plamann said. “And we’ve dramatically reduced the amount of paper transactions with [retail] members.”
Water is another target of conservation. Unified is using a computer system to reduce the amount of water used in its dairy plant, and employing an outside service to wash its trailers with a “semi-recyclable” system that “uses quite a bit less water than the standard truck washers we have.”
Unified also tries to encourage its retail members to pursue sustainability initiatives. Two years ago, for instance, the company made a DVD that offered ideas on how retailers could encourage consumers to recycle. Retailers are also recruited to “work with us when we talk to vendors about reducing packaging,” Plamann said.
Read more: Kudrinko’s Thrives on Cutting Energy Costs
Unified’s equipment people work with retailers on installing energy-efficient LED lighting in freezers as well as temperature-monitoring equipment for freezers, coffin cases and refrigerated cases.
In the past three months, Unified has added more than 10,000 SKUs of natural and organic products and is rolling out the program in the Pacific Northwest, with plans to bring it to California. The wholesaler has created a pilot database for the program that retailers can use to perform searches for products that are Fair Trade certified, non-GMO (a particularly sensitive issue in California) or allergen-free, among other criteria. Unified has also been able to step up its supply of local products, primarily in the Pacific Northwest.
Ultimately, Plamann’s take on sustainability is that it’s an inevitable priority for any company today. Lagging companies “will be unable to ignore the concept of sustainability for very much longer,” he said last year at the Sustainability Summit, hosted by the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
“Those companies will soon find themselves competing at a disadvantage in the marketplace, find themselves battling to preserve their credibility among stakeholders and find themselves fighting to keep loyal customers they have had for years,” he said.
|Suggested Categories||More from Supermarketnews|