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Safeway, Inc. celebrated Earth Day yesterday by previewing its newest “green” store design, deploying community cleanup teams that use the grocer’s environmentally safe line of cleaning products and distributing reusable grocery bags to decrease waste in landfills.
The Earth Day activities and programs focused on the company’s commitment to sustainable and socially responsible business practices. “We are proud of the reputation we have developed for sustainability,” said Larree Renda, Safeway EVP and chief strategist. “Earth Day gives us an opportunity to demonstrate the progress we are making and preview the direction we are taking on a range of fronts, including store design and earth-friendly products, along with our already strong history of supporting communities.”
Safeway conducted a hard-hat construction tour of what will be its first store designed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards, a designation given only to buildings that meet strict standards of sustainable design, construction and operating practices. The 59,600-square-foot Safeway store, currently under construction in Santa Cruz, Calif., will feature environmentally focused innovations such as a system that uses water condensation captured from the store’s giant refrigeration system to irrigate the outdoor landscaping, and greenhouse gas reducing energy sources like photovoltaic solar panels and fuel cells. At peak power production, the alternative energy technologies will account for more than 70 percent of the store’s peak energy usage.
“Our new Santa Cruz store is the gold standard for sustainable supermarket design for Safeway and the entire supermarket industry,” said Renda.
The Santa Cruz store preview comes just days after Safeway launched its “Bright Green Clean Team” campaign to clean and beautify parks and other public locations in major cities using Safeway’s exclusive Bright Green line of environmentally friendly products. In each city, the team will work with volunteers from local community-based charities on the cleanup effort. The team will clean public locations in Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle.
“Our goal with the Bright Green Clean Team is to demonstrate how simple acts, like pitching in to clean up a park and using cleaning products that don’t harm the environment, can make a difference in towns and communities in which we live,” noted Matt Miller, Safeway VP of marketing and brand strategy.
Safeway’s Bright Green line, introduced in 2008, includes laundry detergents made with biodegradable and naturally derived ingredients, energy-efficient light bulbs, and paper products made from 100 percent recycled materials. Before making them available to customers, Safeway had each product evaluated by a third-party environmental, sustainable and food quality-certification agency to validate all sustainability claims.
In addition to these projects, Safeway stores in various markets distributed reusable grocery bags on Earth Day in an effort to decrease the consumption of single-use bags. For example, San Diego, Safeway’s Vons division created a unique event to encourage reusable bag use and give support to a local hunger relief agency. Several Vons stores gave green reusable Vons bags to customers who donate a nonperishable food item to the San Diego Food Bank. Customers will also receive product coupons for their food donation.
Safeway is one of the largest retail purchasers of wind energy, using 57 million kilowatt-hours of wind energy, enough to power all 303 Safeway retail fuel stations and all stores in San Francisco and Boulder, Colo., as well as all the company headquarters and all corporate offices in northern California.
The company was the first major retailer to join the Chicago Climate Exchange, the world’s first and North America’s only legally binding greenhouse gas allowance trading system, and the California Climate Action Registry, which commits the company to reduce its carbon footprint by 6 percent from year-2000 levels. The California Climate Action Registry is the state’s only official registry for greenhouse gas emission reduction projects.
Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway operates 1,739 stores in the United States and western Canada and had annual sales of $44.1 billion in 2008.