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Safeway Inc. yesterday unveiled its newest solar-powered grocery stores in Northern California, to kick off a week of Earth Day activities focused its commitment to the environment and to helping customers pursue greener sustainable lives.
The grocer also released two reports about its sustainability efforts and community partnerships. The annual "Investing in our Environment" Environmental Status Report chronicles all sustainability efforts, including a broad recycling program in which the company recycled more than one million pounds of materials in 2007, equivalent to saving 8.5 million trees.
The "Corporate Social Responsibility Report" details Safeway's business ethics, philanthropy, food safety, diversity, and corporate governance policies. Both documents are available online at www.Safeway.com.
"With the addition of solar energy to our greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction tool kit, Safeway is taking a leadership role in the retail sector in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and focusing on operating a greener, more ecologically focused company," said Joe Pettus, s.v.p. of fuel and energy at Safeway. "Throughout our vast operations, we are taking a closer look at how we impact the environment, identifying areas for improvement, and acting on them."
State and local officials joined Safeway representatives on a tour of its Placerville store's rooftop solar panel installation. Placerville is one of 23 stores in California Safeway has targeted for renewable solar energy. Its Fairfield store was the other to unveil a new solar power system, which harnesses energy from the sun and decreases the store's reliance on traditional GHG-emitting fossil fuel energy.
According to Safeway, the solar equipment at Placerville and Fairfield will provide about 20 percent of the stores' average annual power usage, and up to 48 percent of peak power usage. By using solar energy at the two units, as well as its flagship solar store in Dublin, Calif., Safeway estimates it will remove 1.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide from the air, the equivalent of taking 144 vehicles off the road annually.
The entire 23-store solar program will remove 12.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide from the air, the equivalent of taking 1,045 cars off the road annually.
Safeway said it is also celebrating Earth Day week by highlighting and discounting earth-friendly products in a free booklet it is distributing in stores, "Because We Care About the Environment." The booklet also provides a 10-step program consumers can follow to support sustainability in their daily living.
Safeway's ongoing green programs include its Greenhouse Gas Reduction Initiative, which explores ways to use renewable energy throughout its operations. In January Safeway became one of the first major retailers in the United States to convert its entire fleet of more than 1,000 trucks to cleaner-burning biodiesel fuel.
Safeway is also one of the largest retail purchasers of wind energy, using 57 million kilowatt hours of wind energy, which it says is enough to power all 303 Safeway retail fuel stations, all stores in San Francisco, California, and Boulder, Colo., as well as all of the company headquarters and all corporate offices in Northern California.
Safeway has also implemented energy-saving strategies throughout its manufacturing, distribution and grocery stores' daily operations by installing new energy-efficient technologies, introducing new maintenance procedures, and implementing new sustainable design and construction practices. New lighting, refrigeration, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and building control systems are evaluated with sustainability in mind, said the retailer.
Safeway operates 1,743 stores in the United States and western Canada and had annual sales of $42 billion in 2007.