Investing In Our Environment
Becoming a leader: Not a follower
A business listed in the yellow pages as a grocery store does more than sell food and other household items. In 1915, M.B. Skaggs purchased a small store in his hometown of American Falls, Idaho. The goal was to give customers a value store and expand with a narrow profit margin. In 1926, his determination and drive enabled him to open 428 Skaggs grocery stores in 10 states. Later that year Skaggs struck a deal with Selig and merged into one company doubling in size and today is known as Safeway.
Today Safeway is in the business of “investing in our environment.” For over 82 years they have been dedicated to earning a reputation for honesty, integrity and fair play, since they were well aware that they were a major consumer of energy on an annual basis. Therefore, they decided that they needed to take necessary steps to be a leader in renewable & socially responsible energy use.
Since the public has become more conscious about the state of the environment consumers over the years have been demanding “environmental-accountability” from the suppliers of the goods and services they buy. Safeway wanted to meet these demands and have since branded themselves as a “good corporate practitioner.” They have managed to balance the field between making a profit, meeting obligations to shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers and sustaining the environment. Programs such as the Code of Business Conduct, recycling, sustainable energy, fuel efficiency, and the careful planning of expansion of their company have put Safeway in the forefront of large businesses that make a difference for the environment and the future.
The Code of Business Conduct: The Environmental Boot Camp
Before any environmental programs proceed, Safeway employees must buy-in. The belief “is that you should practice what you preach.” Since the company recognizes that the air, water, soil and vegetation should be kept as free as possible from negative impacts they have laid a set of guidelines that all new-hire and current employees must apply to their job - wherever and whenever possible. These guidelines state that employees must conduct business and operate facilities in an environmentally responsible manner; comply with all applicable environmental laws and regulations; minimize waste and reduce pollution sources in stores and manufacturing and distribution facilities; minimize environmental liabilities in the acquisition and disposition of properties; and assist customers in utilizing sound environmental practices.
These guidelines are just a small part of the training the employees receive. They are provided with environmental modules in new employee orientation, retail leadership, and developmental and safety champions programs. There are also clean water compliance trainings on source reduction, recycling and environmental practices. “Power to Save” is a monthly education program on energy conservation that provides employees the tools to make a difference in their stores. And, employees can access a 24-hour online intranet site with numerous resources and training materials related to their job functions.
Education on safe environments doesn’t stop there. Safeway also aggressively tries to train and educate the public through public service announcements, which support state programs aimed at reducing energy in stores and support facilities.
Refuse and Reuse: The Recycling Program
The recycling program started with just cardboard in the 1960s and has turned into a 450,000 ton material a year business. The recycling program allows for solid waste to be diverted from landfills and reduces the cost of waste hauling and disposal, therefore saving the company millions of dollars each year. In addition, it helps cities and states meet the mandated reduction of solid waste that is put into landfills. In fact, in each of the California stores, they recycle approximately 85% of its solid waste, even though the states mandated solid waste reduction policy is 50%. Because the company well exceeded the state goal, California and the CIWMB (California Integrated Waste Management Board) presented Safeway with the Waste Reduction Award in 2005 and 2007.
Number Facts for 2007: Food for Thought
Corrugated Cardboard Recycling: 309,563 tons All cardboard is collected and sold to cardboard brokers. Plastics Recycling: 8,975 tons Customers can bring back plastic bags and plastic trays that are used to make parking lot bumpers and plastic lumber products. Composting: 92,891 tons Produce trimmings, unusable produce, waxed boxes, and bakery products are sent to a co mposting site where they are turned into soil products. Food Wastes: 65,981 tons Includes bread, dairy products, cooking oil fat & bone from the meat department are recycled into products like animal feed, supplements and biodiesel fuel. Miscellaneous Recycled Materials: 24,986 tons Aluminum, metals, paper, wood, batteries, oil & refrigerant are all recycled.
Overall, 502,396 tons were recycled in 2007. That is 386,000 cubic yards, enough to cover a football field and rise over 190 feet high.
The Future is Today: Sustainable Energy
The definition of sustainable energy is energy that in its production or consumption has minimal negative impacts on human health and the healthy functioning of vital ecological systems, including the global environment, and that can be supplied continuously to future generations on earth. In 2006, the Greenhouse Gas and Sustainability Initiative was created in a partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Climate registry. These partners, along with Safeway, were striving to reduce the amount of carbon released in the air and improve the quality of life. The goal was to reduce the amount of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 6% in California, and to maximize fossil fuel use reductions. This has aided the planning and construction of Safeway’s environmental management, operation, maintenance and infrastructure projects. Recently Safeway became the only company to join the Chicago Climate Exchange; which is the world’s first and North America’s only voluntary, legally binding GHG emissions reduction, registry and trading program.
Over the last few years, technology has supported the company in their effort to move forward by installing energy-efficient refrigeration and freezer systems, computer based and equipment control systems, improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning, wastewater neutralization, building improvements and LED lighting to reduce overall energy consumption.
Furthermore, Safeway has supported wind energy to offset the power used by their fuel stations and corporate offices. In fact, in 2008 Safeway unveiled two new solar-powered stores as part of an Earth Day celebration. Both stores are located in northern California and provide 20% of their average annual power and up to 48% at peak power from solar sources. Eventually Safeway’s plans are to have 23 solar driven stores that will remove 26 million pounds of CO2 from the air each year - the equivalent of taking more than 1,000 cars off the road annually.
Safeway’s plans are to have 23 solar driven stores that will remove 26 million pounds of CO2 from the air each year - the equivalent of taking more than 1,000 cars off the road annually.
Keep on Truckin’: Fuel Efficiency & Cleaner Air
Since 2006, Safeway has been an advocate and member of the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership.
This move was the first of its kind by any major U.S. retailer. In addition to the fleet conversion, all of Safeway’s 48 underground storage tanks have met EPA standards.
The transition to biodiesel fuel did not happen overnight. Safeway used Smartway’s FLEET (Freight Logistics Environmental and Energy Tracking) to track and analyze their truck fleet during 2006 and created a baseline fuel efficiency study that implemented over a three-year window. The goal was to improve overall fuel efficiency performance. So far, the effort has saved the company almost 6.8 million gallons of diesel fuel and has prevented 75,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually. Moreover, Safeway saved over $19 million in fuel costs during 2007 with its shift to energy efficient fleets.
In 2008, Safeway made an aggressive and bold move that converted almost 1,000 fleet trucks to cleaner burning B-20 biodiesel fuel, which will reduce over 75 million pounds of CO2 annually.
To ensure that fleets run more efficiently, even the drivers of delivery trucks and other transportation vehicles are required to follow a set of stringent guidelines dedicated to fuel efficiency. These guidelines include adopting a five-minute idle policy which keeps drivers from running trucks unnecessarily during loading and unloading; purchasing tractors with an aerodynamic profile; using automatic tire-inflation systems to keep tires inflated at levels that maximize efficiency; using large-capacity trailers to limit the number of trips to stores; running route-optimization software to determine the most efficient delivery routes; and training drivers to more effectively shift gears to maximize engine performance.
Surveying the Field: Responsible Growth
Careful planning is key to the growth strategy at Safeway. They assess the impact of particular areas for development and the impact to the environment. Before the purchase or sale of land, environmental assessments are conducted to ascertain potential impacts to the land and the surrounding community.
Sustainable development is about creating environmentally responsible growth programs. It is a standard belief that setting a good example will open doors for others to follow. When it comes to business ethics, others judge us not by what we know but by what we do. Safeway is leading the charge in developing company-wide efforts to create sustainable, environmentally friendly business models. They are on the forefront of fleet conversion, building conversion, and training conversions. They are a model business citizen investing in our environment.