SUSTAINABILITY: IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Foodstuffs is making some significant headway in the sustainability space – there’s no denying that.  Having kick-started action on plastic bags in New Zealand, banned microbeads and been the first to market with 100% recyclable meat trays, Foodstuffs is putting its promise to look after the environment on the line, but there’s way more to do.

“We’re wholly committed to ensuring that sustainability is front of mind in every aspect of our operations,” said Chris Quin, CEO Foodstuffs North Island. “It’s essential that this filters through to all members of our team – and that it’s something we all need to do, every day.  As part of this commitment the Foodstuffs North Island team has recently installed a new waste management system, designed to encourage everyone to be more thoughtful about rubbish and to take the right action, every time.”

“What this means for the business is that the Support Centre has recently done away with traditional rubbish bins. The team now disposes of rubbish at central hubs with bins carefully designed to encourage good recycling behaviour. Bins are labelled up as, general waste, recycling, and food waste – and staff are encouraged to be conscientious when disposing of rubbish with the overall aim of having as little waste as possible.”

This simple initiative comes off the back of so many other changes the business has made to enhance their environmental footprint.  At the heart of this the Waste Minimisation Programme for supermarkets which encourages stores to focus on recycling and reusing waste at back of store, with landfill being a last resort.

“Working with our service provider EnviroNZ, stores on the programme have a target of achieving 80% diversion from landfill in year 1 and 90% by the end of year 2. The programme has proved a great success with 115 stores and distribution centres transitioned across to the programme by the end of last year – with more on the way,” said Quin.

“Over a 12-month period, Foodstuffs sites on the programme will divert over 25,000 tonnes of waste away from landfill to other uses. This is approximately 80% of the total tonnage of waste produced. On average, stores have improved recycling from a respectable 65% to an impressive 80% plus.  Some stores have already hit their 24-month target of 90% which is absolutely astonishing.”

Other environmental projects might not be as visible as the recent launch of Bags Not – a nationwide campaign to encourage Kiwis to say ‘no’ to single-use plastic bags, or the rollout of electric vehicle charging stations across the Foodstuffs network, but they are making an impact.

“Things like improving our refrigeration systems to cut back on energy use, or using our roof space to capture water for our stores make a real difference.  Our stores continue to reduce their energy consumption by up to 2% per year in terms of energy consumption per m² thanks to energy efficient components such as skylights, lids and doors on all freezers, LED lighting and light sensor technology.”

However, the most visible way the business is getting on board to protect the environment is through waste.  “We’re reducing ours and we’re helping our team and our customers make better decisions on where to put leftovers, packaging and plastics.  Pulling together, we can all make a huge difference by starting with the little things.”