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Safeway Shares Details about Biodiesel Initiative

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway, Inc. said yesterday it has converted its entire U.S. truck fleet to cleaner-burning biodiesel fuel.

The chain officially announced the completion of the conversion here at Safeway's Capitol Hill store, in conjunction with the kickoff of the Grocery Manufacturers Association's first-ever Environmental Sustainability Summit.

The initiative makes Safeway one of the first major retailers in the U.S. to convert its entire fleet of more than 1,000 trucks to biodiesel fuel. The company estimated that this change will reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 75 million pounds annually, the equivalent of taking nearly 7,500 passenger vehicles off the road each year.

"Every day Safeway has hundreds of trucks on the roads making deliveries," said Steve Neibergall, president of Safeway's Eastern division. "We've found a better, greener way to fuel our trucks."

Safeway hopes to raise awareness among other companies about the benefits of switching to biodiesel, he said. "Our trucks will have bi-diesel decals on them so that other people are aware of this initiative."

Joe Pettus, Safeway's s.v.p. of energy, said the company switched to biodiesel for three reasons: 1) to use a domestic source of fuel and thus reduce dependency on foreign oil (biodiesel is developed primarily from soy); 2) it's a clean source of fuel; and 3) it's renewable.

While the company said it hopes to achieve cost savings from using biodiesel, "There is a cost penalty involved," Safeway's v.p. of transportation, Tom Nartker, told Progressive Grocer. Nartker said he could not share specifics on the cost penalty, but he added of the fuel initiative, "It's the right thing to do."

Safeway considers itself a leader among retailers that are embracing environmentally friendly initiatives. The new biodiesel program is just part of the grocer's extensive Greenhouse Gas Reduction Initiative and its overall effort to manage its carbon footprint, address climate change, and reduce air pollution.
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