As Weis Markets expanded its customer base and footprint by more than 25% in 2016, the Sunbury, Pa.-based retailer also grew its sustainability efforts and continued to reduce its environmental footprint company-wide, according to its new report, “Weis Sustainability 2016: Growing Greener and Investing in Our Future.”
Since launching its sustainability efforts in 2008, the company has incorporated energy-saving measures designed to lower energy consumption, fossil fuel dependence and carbon emissions. These sustainability initiatives have helped Weis to reduce its carbon footprint in existing stores by 25.4% as of mid-2016.
Over a 3-month period in 2016, Weis acquired 44 new stores, expanding the company’s footprint to 204 stores in seven states. As part of that acquisition, Weis expanded its sustainability programs into all stores, implementing key sustainability practices that reduce emissions in new store design and remodels, expanding the company’s recycling center and fuel efficiency of its vehicles and growing the Fresh Rescue Program. These newly-acquired stores slightly lessened the company’s carbon footprint reduction to a total of 21.8% for 2016, as the stores continue to be retrofitted with key sustainability measures.
“This expansion helped to bolster and expand our presence in the Mid-Atlantic region,” says R. Kevin Small, vice president, 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.”
Key sustainability achievements and accolades for Weis Markets in 2016 include:
- Increased recycling by more than 8.3% over the previous year. The company 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.
- Recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill program, which encourages reduced refrigerant usage to help lower the overall environmental impact on the ozone layer and climate change. Awards in 2016 included the 2016 Superior Goal Achievement, the 2016 Exceptional Goal Achievement and 2013-2017 Store Re-Certification Excellence.
- Expanded its fleet of energy-efficient vehicles, hitting its goal of leasing 30 vehicles with “clean diesel” exhaust technology.
- Received LEED Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for the company’s Fogelsville, Pa., store. The design features now serve as the gold standard for all future store remodels and new buildings.
- Expanded its 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center that streamlines the company’s supply chain while minimizing its environmental impact through use of an ammonia refrigeration system and also expanding the Weis Recycling Center.
- Committed to reducing food waste in Weis operations 50% by 2030, as one of five grocers for the inaugural class of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, convened by the EPA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“As we approach the 10th year tracking sustainability metrics, I am continually impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication our associates have for meeting the goals that reduce our environmental footprint,” says Patti Olenick, 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.”