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Rite Aid Makes Significant Strides in ESG Efforts

Annual report provides progress updates and standards for environmental responsibility, DEI, community impact and more
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Rite Aid Releases Fourth Annual Environmental, Social and Governance Report
This year’s report addresses the four ESG pillars introduced in Rite Aid's 2021 report: Thriving Planet, Thriving Business, Thriving Workplace and Thriving Community.

Continuing to seek opportunities consistent with its purpose, Rite Aid has published its fourth annual environmental, social and governance (ESG) report detailing the company’s strategy and progress against goals over the past year. This year’s report addresses the four ESG pillars introduced in the company’s 2021 report: Thriving Planet, Thriving Business, Thriving Workplace and Thriving Community.

Thriving Planet

During the past year, Rite Aid advanced its objective of reducing the company’s environmental impact by lessening energy demand, transitioning to lower-carbon energy sources, minimizing waste and improving fleet efficiency. Specifically:

  • Rite Aid expanded its partnership with 3 Phases Renewables to purchase 50% renewable power at select stores in Southern California to include an additional 150 stores, the Thrifty ice cream plant and a distribution center.
  • By the end of 2021, 42% of Rite Aid stores had transitioned to LED lighting. The company is on track to complete a goal of installed LED lighting at 100% of its stores by 2035.
  • Throughout 2021, Rite Aid diverted more than 76,000 tons of recyclable material from landfills through its recycling programs.

Thriving Business

Rite Aid is working to embed sustainability in every level of its value chain, improving supply chain transparency and engagement, formalizing environmental and social sourcing guidelines and policies, and enhancing consumer transparency regarding sustainable products and sourcing. 

  • In 2021, Rite Aid conducted independent third-party audits of 51 factories, and while the vast majority received an overall acceptable rating, Rite Aid ended relationships with seven suppliers that didn't correct deficiencies identified in their audits.
  • Rite Aid held its first supplier sustainability summit, meeting with more than 75 suppliers showcasing products that support whole health and clean ingredients across categories such as food and beverage, health and beauty care, and general merchandise.
  • Rite Aid accelerated plans to source 100% cage-free eggs in all of locations by the end of 2022, representing the company’s commitment to responsible sourcing and advancing sustainable and ethical practices.

Thriving Workplace

To encourage a thriving workplace and optimize associate experience, opportunity and well-being across the organization, Rite Aid is implementing a transformative DEI strategy and recruitment and retention practices to drive positive business outcomes.

  • In 2021, the company introduced the DEI Talent Network, an employee resource group aimed at promoting diversity and health-and-wellness equity, improving the workplace and community and providing professional development opportunities. Rite Aid also developed a new DEI strategy roadmap, which includes the integration of DEI into human resource policies as well as business processes.
  • Also in 2021, Rite Aid revealed its decision to be a remote-first employer, allowing more flexibility for associates to balance work and family priorities. The policy underscores Rite Aid’s commitment to modernize the workplace and allows the company to recruit the best talent, regardless of location. Rite Aid recently unveiled its new headquarters in Philadelphia that blends its remote-first corporate workforce with opportunities for in-person collaboration.

Thriving Community

Rite Aid continues to improve health equity, outcomes and access to care in the communities it serves.

  • Over the past year, Rite Aid has improved access to COVID-19 vaccines in neighborhoods across the country, partnering with organizations such as the Newark Equitable Vaccine Initiative, the NAACP and the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO to set up clinics for vulnerable or underserved populations. To date, Rite Aid has administered more than 17 million COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Also in 2021, Rite Aid pharmacists received training to become certified integrative pharmacy specialists, and they are now able to counsel on both traditional and alternative remedies. For example, pharmacists can offer lifestyle recommendations along with traditional and alternative remedies to help lessen stress and attain proper sleep health.
  • Rite Aid continues to help combat the opioid crisis in the United States. Through the DEA National Take Back Days, more than 792 tons of unused medications were removed from homes, and more than 80,000 pounds removed from Rite Aid in-store medication disposal kiosks. Rite Aid distributed 412,354 Dispose Rx packets free of charge to assist opioid patients in quickly and safely disposing of unused excess opioids.

For the first time, in this year’s report, Rite Aid identified alignment with eight of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are designed to facilitate significant global development by 2030. The eight goals are Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-being, Affordable and Clean Energy, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Reduced Inequalities, Responsible Consumption and Production, and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

“As a purpose-driven health care organization, we recognize the need to do our part in minimizing our environmental footprint and making a positive impact through our associates in the communities we serve,” said Paul Gilbert, chief legal officer overseeing ESG efforts at Rite Aid. “Our advancement thus far is exciting, and we look forward to further progress in the months and years ahead.”

Rite Aid employs 6,400-plus pharmacists and operates more than 2,350 retail pharmacy locations across 17 states. The Philadelphia-based company is No. 21 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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