Weis Markets Grows Sustainability Efforts
During a year in which it expanded its customer base and footprint by more than 25 percent, Weis Markets also ramped up its sustainability initiatives and made progress in reducing its environmental footprint, according to the grocer’s new report, “Weis Sustainability 2016: Growing Greener and Investing in Our Future.”
Since rolling out its sustainability measures in 2008, Weis has incorporated energy-saving measures aimed at lowering energy consumption, fossil fuel dependence and carbon emissions. These efforts have helped the Sunbury, Pa.-based company reduce its carbon footprint in its existing stores by 25.4 percent as of mid-2016.
As part of its 2016 acquisition of 44 stores, bringing its total store base to 204, Weis expanded its sustainability programs into all of the acquired locations, implementing practices that reduce emissions in new stores and remodels, expanding its recycling center and the fuel efficiency of its vehicles, and growing the Fresh Rescue Program. The newly acquired stores slightly lessened the company’s total carbon footprint reduction to 21.8 percent for 2016, as they continue to be retrofitted.
“This expansion helped to bolster and expand our presence in the Mid-Atlantic region,” noted R. Kevin Small, Weis’ VP, store development. “But just as importantly, it has allowed us to expand our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, bring our sustainability practices into new markets and establish relationships with the new communities that we serve. This benefits our environment, customers, associates and shareholders.”
Among Weis’ other sustainability milestones in 2016:
- Increasing recycling by more than 8.3 percent over the previous year: The grocer recycled more than 25,600 tons of cardboard, 607 tons of mixed paper, 786 tons of plastic bags and 170 tons of recycled pharmacy bottles.
- Receiving various awards from the Environmental Protection Agency's GreenChill program, which encourages reduced refrigerant usage to help lower the overall environmental impact on the ozone layer and climate change.
- Growing its fleet of energy-efficient vehicles, reaching its goal of leasing 30 vehicles with “clean diesel” exhaust technology.
- Earning LEED Sliver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its Fogelsville, Pa., store, whose design features now serve as the gold standard for all future store remodels and buildings.
- Expanding a 1.2-million-square-foot distribution center that streamlines the company’s supply chain while minimizing its environmental impact through the use of an ammonia refrigeration system, and also expanding the Weis Recycling Center.
- Pledging to reduce food waste in company operations 50 percent by 2030 as one of five grocers in the inaugural class of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, convened by the EPA and the United States Department of Agriculture.
“As we approach the 10th year [of] tracking sustainability metrics, I am continually impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication our associates have for meeting the goals that reduce our environmental footprint,” said Patti Olenick, Weis’ sustainability manager. “It is a true team effort, ranging from our corporate leaders to our staff in the distribution centers and all of our stores.”