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Kroger Southwest, which consists of 208 stores in Texas and Louisiana, continues to make progress toward reducing greater amounts of waste and conserving more energy by implementing green practices and following a three-step approach it calls, “Educate, Maintain, and Invest.”
In a committed effort to reduce usage, Kroger Southwest has a task force of energy-conservation technicians whose sole focus is to identify ways stores can operate more efficiently. Since 2000, Kroger Southwest has reduced energy consumption in its stores by 30 percent. In the next five years the grocer plans to lower energy usage by 50 percent – an average decrease of 2-4 percent annually.
"We're always looking for ways to reduce waste, conserve energy and better our transportation systems," says Bill Breetz, president of the Kroger Southwest Division. "By continually educating our associates, introducing new approaches and investing in programs, we've been able to significantly reduce our carbon footprint as a company and contribute to global sustainability efforts."
The Kroger "SAVE 5" program, which was developed by the retailer's facility engineering team, equips associates with five easy habits that can be practiced to reduce waste and energy at store level. The program educates associates about the importance of closing doors; turning lights off; shutting down equipment after use; maintaining specified temperatures in refrigeration cases; and not overstocking products.
Kroger Southwest is investing in a new eco-friendly initiative called "Lighting Reinvention." Lighting is ranked number two behind refrigeration as the leading energy consumer in Kroger stores. The program will significantly cut down the amount of kilowatts used in stores over a 5-year period.
In 2010, Kroger sold five million reusable bags to reduce plastic bag use by 159 million. Kroger Southwest encourages the continued use of environmentally-friendly bags and invites customers to recycle plastic through its everyday "Bag-2-Bag" program. Since the program's inception in 2008, more than 6.1 million pounds of plastic has been collected and recycled collectively in Greater Houston, East Texas, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Louisiana.
In addition to operations, Kroger is dedicated to following sustainable practices related to food. Kroger is taking steps to require its seafood suppliers to follow specific sustainable practices. Sustainable seafood practices ensure that the variety of fish customers enjoy today is also available for future generations. Kroger is working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a leading conservation organization, to develop its strategy for responsibly sourced wild seafood.
Through Kroger Southwest's Perishable Donation Partnership with local hunger-relief organizations including the Houston Food Bank, Tarrant Area Food Bank and North Texas Food Bank, the grocer salvages protein-rich foods such as beef, pork and poultry by freezing the products prior to their sell-by-date. This one action extends the life of the products and then allows the food banks' culinary teams to create meals from the proteins like chicken alfredo, spaghetti bolognaise and other dishes to provide food-insecure clients with meals. In addition to helping feed local hungry families, children and seniors, the Partnership also supports Kroger's environmental sustainability efforts since the donated products are no longer being discarded into landfills. Last year, Kroger Southwest provided more than 3.6 million meals through the Partnership to help feed hundreds of thousands of residents in Texas and Louisiana.