Pandemic or not, food and other types of retailers are racing to position themselves as environmentally friendly — either from sincere belief or consumer demand, or both — and Meijer and Sprouts Farmers Market provide the latest example of that hot trend.
The retail chains have won recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for reducing refrigerant emissions across all its supercenters over the past year, as part of the GreenChill program.
More specifically, Meijer earned a Superior Achievement Award for reaching its refrigerant-leak rate goal by installing leak detection systems, following robust maintenance policies, and by proactively replacing end-of-life equipment at each of its stores. Additionally, the Grand River Avenue Meijer, in Detroit, earned the Best of the Best recognition for achieving the highest estimated avoided emissions among the more than 500 GreenChill certified stores nationwide in 2019.
Sprouts, meanwhile, earned recognition for using environmentally friendlier commercial refrigeration systems that reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease environmental impacts. This year, seven Sprouts stores earned Re-Certification Excellence recognizing each location for renewing GreenChill store certification for five consecutive years.
Sprouts has participated in the GreenChill Program since 2009. This year’s achievements add to the 25 GreenChill recognitions that the healthy grocer has received in previous years.
A Meijer executive described why the recognition is important in the food retail world.
“Refrigeration plays a vital role in ensuring foods are stored at the proper temperature before they're purchased by our customers, but it [also] makes an impact on the environment,” said Vik Srinivasan, Meijer’s SVP of properties and real estate. "Meijer is committed to lessening our carbon footprint, and this continued partnership with GreenChill helps us reach our environmentally friendly goals.”
The EPA's GreenChill program is a voluntary partnership with food retailers, refrigeration system manufacturers and chemical providers to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their environmental impacts. GreenChill provides supermarkets and other industry stakeholders with information and assistance to transition to environmentally friendlier refrigerants, reduce the amount of refrigerant they use, eliminate refrigerant leaks, implement environmental best practices and adopt green refrigeration technologies. There are more than 12,600 GreenChill Partner stores nationwide.
The news of the EPA awards for Meijer comes as other retailers increase their own environmental and emission-reduction efforts — a trend that promises to keep increasing in 2021 and beyond.
For example, Walmart earlier in September reaffirmed its commitment to battle climate change with a goal to achieve zero emissions across the company’s worldwide operations by 2040, without the use of carbon offsets. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer and the Walmart Foundation are also pledging to help protect, manage or restore a minimum of 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030 to conserve nature under threat.
As for Meijer, it has participated in the GreenChill Program since 2012 and has continually reduced refrigerant emissions across its 253 supercenters. The Grand River Ave. Meijer earned recognition for reducing the highest estimated emissions -- the amount of emissions it reduced totaled the energy use of 239 homes for a year.
“Meijer's two GreenChill recognitions demonstrate their continued leadership in the supermarket industry," said Kirsten Cappel, GreenChill program manager. “We commend Meijer's sustained commitment to reducing refrigerant emissions across the company and in their GreenChill-certified stores. Meijer's efforts are protecting the environment.”
Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Meijer operates more than 245 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The company is No. 19 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Phoenix-based Sprouts, which employs more than 35,000 team members at 340-plus stores in 23 states, is No. 45 on The PG 100, and Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on PG's list.