Skip to main content

Earth Day Brings Out World of Innovations

Grocers, CPGs share investments and results of sustainability practices
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
On April 22, H-E-B is giving away free reusable bags featuring Big Bend Ranch Texas State Park.

On the 54th observance of Earth Day on April 22, many grocers are touting their efforts to protect the environment. These initiatives encompass a variety of actions focused on both short- and long-term impact across what is increasingly a circular economy.

Below are some examples of announcements tied to Earth Day and Earth Month:

  • Michigan-based SpartanNash shared that it is upcycling plastic grocery bags from its stores for use in accessible home ramps for local veterans. The food solutions company, which serves military commissaries through one arm of its business, is providing single-use bags collected at its stores to partners Home Repair Services and TrexCompany, who will create low-maintenance and durable composite decking. "The upcycling of plastic bags into accessible ramps for veterans with disabilities is a People First program that gives our nation's heroes the gift of mobility and the opportunity to more easily enjoy life outside of their homes," said Adrienne Chance, SVP of communications. "We are grateful to the associates and shoppers in our stores who recycle their plastic grocery bags so that SpartanNash can make these kinds of donations possible."
  • H-E-B is likewise focusing on cutting down waste from single-use bags, giving away 265,000 reusable bags to shoppers on April 22. It’s become an Earth Day tradition for the Texas-based grocer, which estimates that it has donated three million reusable bags in honor of that occasion since 2008. 
  • Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Inc. is offering three days of Earth Day deals on April 20-22 and is promoting its annual Ladybug Love campaigning benefiting Beyond Pesticides and that group's Parks for a Sustainable Future program. 
  • Target Corp. recently recapped progress towards its sustainability goals, such as eco-friendly designs across its owned brands, the expansion of its electric vehicle charging network and installation of rooftop solar panels as part of its net zero pledge. During Earth Month, Target is hosting an annual car seat trade-in event through April 27, through which customers can bring in old car seats and get a 20%-off coupon toward a new car seat. The retailer is using some of the materials from those used car seats to create new products and materials in a bid to become more circular. 
Impossible Ranch
Impossible Foods announced details about its Impossible Ranch in Colorado, which "rescues" cattle and grows crops for plant-based alternatives.
  • Walmart and the Tide brand from Procter & Gamble announced on Earth Day a new multi-month campaign to encourage consumers to wash clothes in cold water. The campaign, "Turn to Cold for the Love of…”, includes in-store product sampling and demos, digital advertising, in-store signage, social media promotion and more to help establish cold water as the next broadly adopted eco-habit “At Walmart, our purpose has always been to help people save money and live better. More and more, consumers are looking for easier ways to make the more sustainable choice, without compromising quality,” said Marco Reyes, the retailer’s senior director for sustainability. “Washing in cold with Tide helps deliver on multiple consumer needs while enabling the development of a new habit that can sustain for the long term, potentially generationally – well aligned with our commitment to making the everyday choice the more sustainable choice for people.”

Like Tide, other brands and CPGs used Earth Day as a pivot point for sustainability programs. Impossible Foods, for example, shared a first look at its new Impossible Ranch in South Carolina. The project at that 70-acre site involves rescuing cattle and repurposing the land to grow crops used to make Impossible’s plant-based meat alternatives. 

“As a leader of the plant-based category, we saw both a need and an opportunity to demystify meat from plants in a way that feels more approachable for consumers,” explained Leslie Sims, the company’s chief marketing and creative officer. “Impossible Ranch is a living and breathing educational resource where our commitments to giving back to the planet and supporting animal welfare are front-and-center, along with the plants representing key ingredients in our products. We want to bring consumers along on this journey and help them understand how choosing meat from plants can be a better choice.”

Another supplier, Mother Parkers Tea and Coffee, shared that it is investing in new fiber-based packaging for its private label customers and own products as an alternative to traditional can and bag coffee packaging. The packaging is specifically designed for coffee products.

Grand Rapids, Mich. based SpartanNash is No. 41 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. San Antonio-based H-E-B is No. 15 and Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc. of Lakewood, Colo., is No. 95 on The PG 100. Meanwhile, Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6 and Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart is No. 1 the PG 100.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds