Kroger on track for sustainable future

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Kroger on track for sustainable future

By Louisa Hallett - 08/12/2019

In its 2019 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report, the Kroger Co. revealed that the food waste generated by its retail stores decreased 9% in the past year, and that the company had reduced both overall food waste and the greenhouse gases resulting from it.

“We know our customers, associates, stakeholders and investors care deeply about people and our planet,” noted Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen in a letter to ESG stakeholders. “The world around us is changing, too — a warming climate, global population growth, loss of biodiversity, water scarcity, and more. These eco-realities affect our collective ability to feed people today and in the future. They are also the force behind Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste plan. We know 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. is thrown out, yet one in eight people in our country are food insecure — perhaps even someone we know. Redirecting just one-third of the food wasted in the U.S. every year would more than feed those struggling with hunger.”

“Today, doing the right thing for society and being environmentally sustainable are table stakes for corporations,” said Jessica Adelman, Kroger’s group VP of corporate affairs and chief social impact officer. “That's why we’re proud to go above and beyond with our Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan. Our progress in each of the environmental, social and governance aspects of sustainability are a direct result of these innovative and intentional efforts.”

Further highlights of the report include:

  • Kroger achieved a 13% improvement in supermarket food waste diverted from landfill, moving from 27% diversion in 2017 to 40% in 2018.
  • The company’s supermarkets have saved more than 2 billion kilowatt-hours, placing the company well ahead of its 40% electricity savings goal by 2020.
  • Kroger reduced the amount of plastic resin in its private-brand packaging by 9.1 million pounds so far, on track to reaching its 10 million-pound goal by 2020.
  • A 555,000-square-foot facility will be powered by more than 7,000 solar panels, producing 50% of the electricity for the automated distribution center in Paramount, Calif. 
  • Associates rescued 10 percent more food from Kroger’s stores, plants and distribution centers, meaning that 100 million pounds of food went to feed food-insecure families.
  • The Kroger Co. Foundation teamed up with World Wildlife Fund to expand the Food Waste Warriors educational program for students and educators to nine U.S. cities.
  • Through Feed Your Future, Kroger associates can receive up to $3,500 annually – and up to $21,000 over the course of their careers – for continuing education.
  • The company directed more than $328 million in charitable giving – in food and funds – to its surrounding communities in 2018; about $192 million of this amount focused anti-hunger initiatives.
  • Kroger spent $2.6 billion-plus with women- and minority-owned businesses in 2018.
  • The grocer sourced 88% of wild-caught fresh and frozen seafood in its supermarket seafood departments from certified-sustainable sources, and also bought more than 17 million pounds of Fair Trade-certified ingredients for its private-brand products.

Also noted in the report: Kroger formalized and refined several key sustainability commitments on such issues as pollinator protection, deforestation, carbon impact reduction, community engagement and responsible marketing.

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