We are committed to environmentally sustainable policies and practices within our local and global communities. Environmental concerns are essential to our decision making, and we’re committed to helping everyone in our company understand the value of acting in an environmentally responsible way.
We strive to reduce our environmental impact on the earth and its resources. In 2015 we set a target to reduce our greenhouse gas footprint from all energy sources by 25 percent. We’re well on our way as our total footprint is now 19 percent lower, even though we have added a new 25,000-square-foot market to our family. That reduction is equivalent to a 29 percent reduction per square foot.
Our Town & Country Market on Bainbridge Island was awarded LEED® Gold from the US Green Building Council (USGBC) for achievement in our remodel and in the ongoing operation of the market. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a rating system developed by USGBC for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance. For more on that story, see that market’s page.
We are applying the best practices we learned from the LEED® Gold certification process to the remodels of other stores. For example, we replaced all the lighting in Ballard Market with LEDs, which reduces the lighting energy used by more than 55 percent. We swapped out more than 1,400 fluorescent refrigeration lights in other markets to LEDs, saving almost 300,000 kWh of electricity per year. And we re-lamped Central Market Mill Creek with LEDs, some of which use 75 percent less electricity than those they replaced.
Refrigeration and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) consume the majority of the energy used in grocery stores. In 2017, we enclosed 400 feet of open refrigeration in the produce and dairy aisles of all our markets with swing doors. The doors not only save energy directly by easing the load on the refrigeration systems, but indirectly, they also save on heating and air conditioning. In addition, remote monitoring systems on refrigeration equipment alerts us when a door is left ajar so it can be closed immediately. That not only prevents energy waste, it also ensures the integrity of the food by maintaining consistent temperature and humidity control. Also, we installed advanced control systems on many of our HVAC systems, which can cut that energy use by up to 60 percent.
Common refrigerant gases, which can be up to 5,000 times as potent as carbon dioxide, also contribute significantly to greenhouse effect. We installed a state-of-the-art CO2 system at the Bainbridge market, which requires half of the refrigerant gas normally used. We’ll be installing a refrigeration system in our Gig Harbor market, scheduled to open in 2019, that uses 100 percent CO2 – no refrigerant gases (like Freon). And since refrigeration gases also contribute to ozone depletion, in 2017 we proudly changed out the last of our gas refrigeration systems.
Reducing our waste is at the top of our list when it comes to environmental stewardship. Out of the 3,800 tons of waste we generate each year, we’re diverting about 2,950 tons from landfills by donating edible food to local food banks, composting non-edibles and recycling our cardboard, plastics, glass and metals. That gives us a diversion rate of about 78 percent. We’re working to reach our goal of 90 percent diversion. Over the past five years, in addition to diverting a higher percentage of our waste from landfills, we managed to lower our total waste production by 32 percent.
The biggest opportunity for us to lessen waste is to help our customers to reduce, reuse and recycle. We launched a packaging initiative with the goal of providing bags, and packaging, that’s fully recyclable or compostable. Our espresso shops use compostable drink cups, lids, straws and stir sticks. We accept plastic bags for return at all our markets. We worked with the health department to let customers use their own containers in our Bulk Foods.
Our environmental values help guide our choices of the products we offer and the partners with whom we work. By considering locally and regionally produce foods, organic foods and naturally raised meats, we strive to offer environmentally friendly choices for our customers. We work with our suppliers and partners to help reduce packaging and energy use. Read more for some of our achievements so far …
- Sustainability Director: In 2008, we created the role of Environmental Sustainability Director and hired Tony D’Onofrio to fill it. D’Onofrio has a Master’s degree in Sustainable Business from the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, is a Certified Executive Chef and a LEED Green Associate.
- Seafood Sustainability: In 2016, we completed a comprehensive project to create policies and practices around where we get our seafood. The work included species-specific sourcing policies. We then began training and educating our employees, department managers and vendors to ensure the reality in our markets matches our policies and aspirations.
- Food Bank Donations: We donate about 460 tons of edible food to food banks each year, working with 19 food banks in the six communities we serve.
- Reusable Bags: We offer reusable bags for just above cost. We estimate about 20 percent of our customers bring in their own bags each week – that means about 1.35 million paper and plastic bags are kept out of circulation annually.
- Speaking of bags, we provide customers a place to recycle plastic bags at all our markets.
- We have gotten rid of all our Styrofoam and now use only plant-based trays for our meat, seafood and deli items.
- The oil from our deli fryer operations is converted into biodiesel – amounting to about 6,500 gallons of vegetable-based oil every year, company-wide.
- We have an electronics recycling program that ensures our defunct electronics are disassembled and recycled in the United States (overseas electronics recycling is fraught with unsafe practices that cause human health and environmental problems).
- We’ve reduced our office paper use by a third by carefully determining when to print, and how to minimize the ink and paper used when we do print, and always printing double-sided.
- We work with hundreds of local suppliers and producers.
- Electric car charging stations: In 2012, we began installing electric vehicle charging stations at our markets. We have Charge Point dual-port chargers at Ballard Market, Town & Country Market Bainbridge Island and Central Market Poulsbo. These chargers get used about 1,200 times per year.
- All Town & Country Markets employees are offered a three-hour environmental training class in which they learn our environmental policies and achievements, and how their contributions matter.
We want to thank our partners in these efforts, especially the food banks in Mill Creek, Shoreline, Ballard, Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo. We also appreciate working with Cedar Grove Composting on the Seattle side of the water, and Bainbridge Disposal on the Kitsap side, to compost our food and paper waste. We work with Allied Waste, Waste Management and CleanScapes Shoreline on the Seattle side, and with Bainbridge Disposal on the Kitsap side, for recycling glass, plastic and metal.
If you have any questions or feedback about our environmental practices, please write to Tony at email@example.com.