Supervalu, along with its Albertsons banner, recently announced plans to transition 40 stores to zero waste operations during the company's current fiscal year, which ends on February 29, 2012. The commitment comes as part of Supervalu's release of its 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report, which highlights the company's accomplishment of becoming the first retailer to achieve zero waste classification at two of its Albertsons grocery stores last November.
"We are aggressively seeking ways to build on our sustainability achievements from this past year," said Andy Herring, executive vice president, real estate, market development and legal. "While this year's CSR report captures some of the excitement we shared in being the first food retailer to achieve zero waste in the U.S. at two of our California stores, we truly believe this is the tip of the iceberg for us."
Supervalu's additional zero waste stores will be located primarily in the Albertsons banner, while also expanding similar efforts across the enterprise. To achieve this recognition, stores must divert at least 90% of all waste from landfills -- a feat accomplished in part through increased associate engagement, recycling, composting and the company's Fresh Rescue food bank donation program, to which Supervalu contributed more than 60 million pounds of food last year.
"Our commitment to significantly increase the number of zero waste stores is part of a long-term strategy for Supervalu to be a leader in the area of environmental sustainability," said Herring. "At the same time, we are committed to these projects because we've also seen that they make a positive financial impact on our business, a true win-win."
During the past year, Supervalu has compiled an impressive list of sustainability and social responsibility achievements, which are highlighted in the 2011 CSR Report. Key examples include:
Supervalu's commitment to waste reduction was significantly accelerated in the past year, culminating in two Albertsons stores in Santa Barbara, Calif. reaching zero waste classification, making Supervalu the first U.S. retail grocer to announce this achievement. Through a combination of innovative recycling programs, a food donation program and a joint organic composting program with the City of Santa Barbara, the two stores now divert all non-contaminated waste from landfills and incinerators, exceeding its zero waste benchmark with a total of over 95 percent waste diversion.
Supervalu's ongoing commitment to reducing waste culminated with a milestone in fiscal year 2011, marking the first time recycling revenues exceeded landfill waste expenses. In total, Supervalu reduced garbage expenses by 12.6 percent over last year's levels, while also conducting an aggressive cardboard recycling initiative that nearly doubled revenues from the previous year. The end result was the waste and recycling program posted a profit to the company's bottom line.
Supervalu's Fresh Rescue Program captures fresh items such as meat, dairy and produce that have reached their "sell by" date, but are still edible and safe, and donates them to local nonprofit organizations. Not only does this program help fight hunger in the communities our stores serve, it also provides needed nutritious food options to those in need while also helping reduce waste in local landfills. Through this program, Supervalu donated nearly 60 million pounds of food in 2010.