By Mike Sammons, Sustainability Manager, Foodstuffs NZ

"Foodstuffs North Island recently launched a pilot programme to stop waste flowing to the sea and other waterways, using the innovative Litta Trap™ product from Kiwi company Stormwater 360.  It’s an environmental initiative that’s totally invisible to our customers, unless a sharp-eyed shopper spots a bronze plaque unveiled by Associate Minister Eugenie Sage, at New World Wellington City.  And, that’s ok.

Not everything we do to reduce waste and our footprint on Papatūānuku is loud, obvious and proud – like banning bags, microbeads or rolling out brightly coloured Electric Vehicle Fast Chargers at more than 70 stores. We’re dead set on doing what’s right and what makes a real difference.  We’re also very proud to be leading the sustainability conversation in New Zealand, taking a leap of faith, with an eye on the numbers, in every aspect of our business.

Whether reducing emissions, plastic waste or ensuring an ethical supply of goods, donating food, or quietly revamping private label packaging and the materials we use to promote our brands, much of what we do is not immediately visible or customer facing.

One of our most important initiatives was enabling the Foodstuffs co-operative to move to natural CO2-based refrigeration for instore which hugely reduces our carbon emissions and electricity usage.  Foodstuffs adoption of this technology was groundbreaking and we now deploy this in all new builds and store redevelopments, radically shrinking our carbon footprint. It adds up to a 20 percent-plus reduction in energy consumption thanks to lids and doors on freezers, LED lighting and heat recovery on refrigeration.

Our unremitting focus on reducing waste at source has seen some of our stores divert up to 95 percent of what used to be considered trash away from landfill.  We’re recycling plastic pallet wrap, cardboard and paper and sending over six million meals to foodbanks and charitable organisations every year. We firmly believe that healthy food should not be a privilege and that every New Zealander deserves a leg up. We are 100 percent a part of that solution.

The one thing running counter-intuitive to a supermarket is the absence of product. Increasingly, we’re making the call not to sell products which have a detrimental effect. When a product is no longer available, there’s no longer demand – so banning oxo-degradable plastic wraps, plastic-stemmed cotton buds and plastic applicator tampons has an instant positive impact on our drains and waterways.  Just like Litta Traps.   

They may be invisible, but we believe they are going to make a big difference."