CINCINNATI -- The Kroger Co. has set a goal to reduce all of its retail locations -- including its 786 convenience stores -- to "zero waste," the locally based company stated in its eighth annual Corporate Sustainability Report.
Zero waste is a philosophy set forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) WasteWise guidelines that encourage the redesign of resource lifecycles so that all products are reused; no trash is sent to landfills and incinerators. Per the EPA, companies must divert 90 percent of waste away from landfills and incinerators to be considered zero waste.
Currently, Kroger stores, including its c-store division, divert 59 percent of waste away from landfills and incinerators. The company has committed to a 70-percent diversion rate by 2015.
"Today, 988 stores are participating in some type of organic waste diversion program," Kroger wrote in the sustainability report. "A combination of composting and animal feed is being used."
Kroger also is working hard to reduce water usage. According to the report, in just a few months, the company reduced its water usage by 7.6 percent in a test at several western retail locations. Kroger is now building a water strategy for all of its retail locations with the goal of reducing water consumption by 5 percent companywide this year.
In another effort to protect the environment, Kroger revealed in the report that it has added electric vehicle charging stations in high-demand, urban areas. The grocery and c-store retailer now offers 133 Blink Level II and 13 Blink DC fast chargers throughout the country. Two additional Blink Level II electric chargers are located at the company's Cincinnati headquarters.
Looking ahead, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said his company will achieve or exceed many of its 2015 goals and has begun to determine key 2020 goals.
"We intend to push for faster and more accelerated improvement across all areas of our business, including water conservation," he said. "Our annual sustainability report contains both quantifiable evidence of the progress we are making and also stories that illustrate and inspire. Mainly, however, this report is a celebration of the dedication of our associates who bring to life — through their everyday activities — our goals and ambitions to lessen our environmental impact, support the work of community organizations, and lead change in certain areas of our business and our industry."
Kroger's 786 convenience stores operate under a variety of brand names, including Turkey Hill Minit Markets, Loaf 'N Jug, Tom Thumb Food Stores, Kwik Shop and Quik Stop Markets.