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May 22, 2018


Green Wise

Art Levy | 12/1/2010

Seeing Green

In 2001, Publix implemented a comprehensive sustainability program called Get Into a Green Routine. Since then:

» Publix has reduced its companywide energy use by more than 940 million kwh — a savings of $59.7 million.

» Electricity use is down more than 8% in existing stores.

» At new stores, built using more energy-efficient designs, energy use is down 23% compared to older stores.

Source: Publix Super Market

Publix Super Markets has stressed sustainability since the 1970s, when it became one of the first supermarket chains in the nation to implement a recycling program. The effort has grown over the years to include saving electricity and fuel, conserving water, cutting the use of plastic bags and producing less trash. Recently, the 1,023-location chain reached a sustainability milestone: It now makes more money from recycling its cardboard and plastics than it spends on hauling away its non-recyclable waste.

"It's an interesting concept, to think of a company that usually sells groceries, and they're also selling garbage in a way," says Tim Center, director of Sustainable Florida and the vice president of sustainability initiatives for the Collins Center for Public Policy. "They've taken what used to be an expense and have actually been able to make it a revenue producer for them."

Publix is making sustainability pay in other ways, too. The company saved $2 million a year during a pilot program at 110 stores, where lighting fixtures were retrofitted with more efficient components. An initiative to more efficiently route trucks reduced trucking miles by more than 28,000 per week, saving the company $670,800 a year.

Maria Brous, director of media and community relations, says the truck rerouting also cut the company's greenhouse emissions by 2,200 tons. In all, she says, Publix cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 43,240 tons in 2009 — positioning Publix well for any future cap-and-trade environment. "We have looked into various voluntary carbon credit markets," Brous says. "But at this time, we have no plans to certify or trade any carbon credits."

Fresh Market's Food Drive

Sustainability can also apply to food. North Carolina-based Fresh Market, which recently opened a store in St. Petersburg, the chain's 24th in Florida and 100th overall, aims to partner with local food banks so some of the food that would ordinarily get tossed goes to the hungry instead. A partnership between Wake Forest University's Campus Kitchen and Fresh Market in Winston-Salem saves up to 650 pounds of food from the trash each week. Drewry Sackett, Fresh Market's community relations manager, says the chain encourages local stores to partner with food banks and "maximize what we give."

Tags: Southwest

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