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A store operated by Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle has become the 500th to be enrolled in Manomet’s sustainability-focused Grocery Stewardship Certification (GSC) program. Participants in the initiative are responsible for annually saving more than 648,000 tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere and diverting 33,000 tons of waste from landfills.
Launched in 2012, GSC is described by the Plymouth, Mass.-based nonprofit as the nation’s first and only grocery sustainability certification program. The program works with grocers to engage associates on operational sustainability strategies and to review store-level practices and equipment as a way to increase energy efficiency, boost revenue and reduce costs. While there are a number of programs that focus on high-performance buildings, GSC is unique in its focus on employee practices and procedures.
Using an online workbook developed by the GSC, store managers or other staffers learn to assess, document and implement sustainable practices, among them energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and food waste diversion. The information collected from the workbook is then reviewed and compiled by GSC staff to create a comprehensive sustainability report that corporate retail staff can use to gauge which operational procedures are already saving money, how much money and resources are being saved, and future opportunities to maximize those savings. Each report contains about $20,000 per store of additional savings from operational sustainability.
Hannaford Supermarkets and Weis Markets have already enrolled all of their stores in the Grocery Stewardship Certification program; Giant Eagle aims to be the third supermarket chain to do so. Hannaford is also the first chain to use the GSC as a yearly tool to benchmark progress at all of its stores.
“Weis Markets has used the Grocery Stewardship Certification program to engage with our employees in new ways and as a tool to show our customers that we are always looking to adopt new sustainable practices,” said Patti Olenick, sustainability director for the Sunbury, Pa.-based grocer.
“Hannaford has found tremendous benefit from our work with the Grocery Stewardship Certification program,” noted George Parmenter, manager of sustainability at the Scarborough, Maine-based Delhaize America banner. “Using the workbooks for the second time, we’ve found a number of areas where our staff and procedures have significantly improved. Through assessing our work, the GSC has helped us to quantify our sustainability efforts as saving us more than $23 million per year.”
“When we launched this grocery sustainability program four years ago, Manomet had high hopes for the impacts that it could have on retailers,” observed GSC Program Manager Peter Cooke. “We’ve exceeded our expectations; our program has worked with retailers across the U.S. to prevent greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere, divert waste from landfills, and save resources like water and energy.”
Since the program began, the GSC has worked with more than a dozen retailers in the United States and Canada, including Wakefern/ShopRite.