The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

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Sustainability Series: Stop & Shop

Sustainability Series: Stop & Shop

Sustainability

October 28, 2012

Stop & Shop opened as a small grocery back in 1914 in Somerville, Massachusetts under the name Economy Grocery Stores Company. By 1947, the company had grown into a flourishing chain of 86 supermarkets, changing their name to Stop & Shop, Inc. Pioneering the superstore concept, Super Stop & Shop opened in New England in 1982. They were acquired by Ahold in 1996. The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC employs nearly 62,000 associates and operates more than 400 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey. We talked to Suzi Robinson, Spokesperson for Stop & Shop, about the obligation a retailer has to be responsible and reduce impact in each community they serve.

How does your business define sustainability?

Sustainability to us is defined as being a responsible retailer and being a better neighbor in the communities in which we operate. It includes many facets of our business and what we mean to our customers. It encompasses offering products that have procured with vendors that are socially and environmentally responsible; providing reusable bags and plastic recycling bins for our customers; recycling waste out of our backrooms and composting organic waste produced from our stores; building stores that reduce energy load and impact to the local environment. These are just a few important examples of how we strive to be a responsible retailer and better neighbor.

How are you incorporating sustainable practices into your business?

It is built into our company DNA and is pervasive in operations, logistics/transportation, merchandising and marketing. Our senior leadership is committed, and we have woven sustainable practices throughout the business. Several specific examples:

- We designate "green captains" in our stores who champion green initiatives and are responsible for ensuring that many processes are being followed every day.

- Our seafood team has partnered with the NE Aquarium to build a best-in-class procurement practice around working with responsible suppliers.

- Our supply chain team continually revisits transportation schedules to ensure we are using our fleet effectively and efficiently.

- As we open new stores and continually remodel existing stores each year, our store planning team is constantly evaluating new technologies and innovations to make our stores more energy efficient. One of our stores in Torrington, Conn. has a fuel cell that contributes over 95% of the store's energy; several stores have solar panels; we implement more energy efficient fixtures and refrigeration cases to reduce energy load.

What are your short term and long term goals?

Short-term: continue to reduce the use of paper and plastic and build energy-efficient stores.

Long-term: Reduce our carbon footprint by 20% by the year 2015 using 2008 as a baseline. This is accomplished by implementing energy conservation initiatives in existing stores (LED lighting retrofits, ECM motors in refrigerated cases, energy efficient refrigerated doors...etc.). This is complemented by an energy efficient design in all new stores.

Expand our portfolio of LEED certified stores by certifying every new store built since 2011. We have three certified new stores so far (one LEED Silver in MD, one Certified in NY and one certified in MA).

We also continue to expand our investment in renewable energy sources. We have 24 stores with solar systems already and working on 15 more to be completed by the end of this year. This will bring the total to 39 stores, roughly 5% of our existing stores.

Where do you think you’ll have the biggest impact?

Our biggest impact will come from the energy conservation features and environmentally friendly design of our new stores. This will be enhanced by the LEED certifications of all our new stores.

We also have several stores with solar panels, which offset our Carbon footprint.

In addition, we have made a commitment to be at Zero Waste by the year 2020. We have made great strides at developing our composting operation. This will have a great impact on reducing our waste going into landfills.

How do you measure your progress?

Our parent company, Ahold, performs regular audits of our efforts and reports these findings internally and shares results externally.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the food industry?

From a food perspective it has much to do with consumer choice. Customers want to feel confident they are purchasing products that are good for them and good for the environment, and of course, are safe.

From an industry perspective, we feel it simply makes sense. Quality, safe, responsibly sourced products sold by businesses that are proactive in protecting the environment means we all have a future.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the consumer?

Consumers have so many choices today and want to feel secure in their decisions on where they make their purchases. Our customers can rely on Stop & Shop and know we have done everything we can to provide safe, responsibly sourced food in stores that reduce the impact on their local community. Our customers can feel good about shopping with us.

In upcoming issues, we will feature interviews with food companies that are making strides in their sustainability efforts. If you are interested in telling us more about what your company is doing to get involved please contact us atAllison@supermarketguru.com.