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Hannaford has been recognized by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for its voluntary efforts to reduce the environmental impact of nine of the Delhaize banner’s supermarkets in central and western Maine.
This month, stores in Farmington, Gardiner, Jay, Madison, Rumford, Skowhegan, Waterville (Elm City Plaza), Waterville (JFK Plaza) and Winthrop received certification from the DEP as Environmental Leaders, joining Hannaford’s two already certified stores in Augusta and one in South Portland to make the Scarborough -based company the leading green grocer in Maine, with 12 of its 23 certified stores.
The stores’ green practices include selling a percentage of locally grown and produced foods spotlighted with “Close to Home” signage and Gulf of Maine Research Institute-verified sustainable seafood; using energy-efficient store lighting, water-conserving fixtures in restrooms, heat recovery from refrigeration systems and environmentally preferable cleaning supplies; donating food to local food banks or pantries; recycling paper, cardboard and plastic waste in addition to composting organic waste; and adopting a written stormwater management policy for parking lots.
The certified stores also educate customers and staff on Hannaford’s efforts to reduce its environmental impact, and have an environmental team of staffers at each location that meets at least quarterly.
In 2009, Hannaford opened the first supermarket certified at the platinum LEED level by the U.S. Green Building Council. The store on Whitten Road in Augusta was a learning laboratory for the grocer’s sustainability activities and the Environmental Leader initiative furthered that effort, according to Bernie Ouellette, a district manager for Hannaford in the Augusta-Waterville area.
“We saw Environmental Leader certification as a way to increase focus on our sustainability work at a store level, while also engaging our associates,” noted Ouellette. “Associates in these stores worked really hard to distinguish Hannaford, and themselves, as leaders in the area of sustainability.”
While a typical Hannaford store keeps 61 percent of its waste from going to a landfill, compared with around 45 percent for the industry, Hannaford’s Environmental Leader stores averaged 78.7 percent.
The Environmental Leader program is a self-guided process offered by DEP as part of its pollution prevention efforts to encourage lodging facilities, restaurants, and grocers to implement selected improvement initiatives from those offered in the department-developed workbook to achieve points toward certification. Businesses hand in their completed workbooks to DEP for review and certification approval, and must boost their point total to be recertified after two years.
DEP’s regional directors and staff from its Office of Assistance offer free technical assistance to help program participants implement sustainable practices, save money and lower their environmental impact.
“Environmental Leader certification recognizes that our practices are good both for business success and Maine’s environment,” said George Parmenter, manager of sustainability for Hannaford, which operates 179 stores and employs more than 27,000 associates in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. “We encourage more grocery stores and other Maine businesses to take advantage of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s voluntary program encouraging sustainable business practices.”
“[O]ur Environmental Leader program … engages businesses in DEP’s core priority of protecting our natural resources while ensuring a vibrant and sustainable economy,” observed DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho. “Grocers who participate are seeing significant energy cost savings that are leading to increased profitably, allowing them to invest in infrastructure improvements and expansion of their workforce. And by selling locally sourced food, they are also helping to grow the businesses of those local producers, too.”