This Week in Sustainability

Meijer’s app cuts food waste; Starbucks sets lofty sustainability goals; and Tyson launches a global coalition.

January 27, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, VA.—Sustainability is fast becoming top of mind for convenience and fuel retailers, and at NACS Daily, our newsfeed is filled with headlines about efforts to minimize waste—of the packaging or food variety—and to reduce or offset carbon emissions. Here are some stories we’ve been following the fourth week of January.

Meijer says a pilot program has reduced in-store food waste by more than 10%. The retailer partnered with Toronto-based Flashfood on a mobile app for selling surplus food nearing its sell-by date at steep discounts. Meijer customers can buy discounted food through the app, then pick up their purchase in-store. The grocery chain and c-store operator began testing the app last fall at four Detroit-area stores and plans to expand the initiative to each of its 246 stores by the end of the year. “In just a few months, we diverted thousands of pounds of food from landfills,” said Don Sanderson, group vice president of Fresh for Meijer. “Minimizing in-store food waste is the right thing to do for our communities and our customers. We’re excited to expand upon these efforts and offer this opportunity to all our customers.” Among the retailer’s other sustainability efforts is the Food Rescue program, which donated more than 13 million pounds of food in 2019 to local food banks. (Source: Meijer

Starbucks has set ambitious goals for sustainability, but will consumers go along? By 2030, the Seattle-based coffee chain wants to halve its carbon emissions from direct operations and its supply chain, the food and materials waste sent to landfills and water used in direct operations and coffee production. It plans to add more environmentally friendly options to its menu (think more plant-based milk than cow’s milk) and shift away from single-use to reusable packaging. Dairy accounts for 21% of Starbucks’ global carbon footprint, according to the company’s just-released Environment Baseline Report. Starbucks looks to the day when customers will bring their own refillable tumblers and cutlery to the store. That’s still a hard sell, though. The company has long offered a 10-cent discount to customers who bring in their own mugs or tumblers, but less than 2% of customers do so, Starbucks says. (Source: the Seattle Times)

Tyson Foods is launching a global coalition to work on sustainability issues. The Coalition for Global Protein will bring together protein producers, academics and environmental and human rights groups to collaborate on sustainability efforts. Members must commit to meet goals on food waste, environmental conservation and other issues. The group held its first meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. John R. Tyson, chief sustainability officer, is spearheading the effort. (Source: the Wall Street Journal)

Consumers will continue to push retailers on sustainability practices in 2020. That’s one of the predictions from Coresight Research’s 2020 outlook on global retail trends. A growing awareness of sustainability issues by retailers and consumers will reshape brands and retail operations amid increasing pressure to focus on supply-chain transparency. Twenty-three percent of U.S. consumers say they try to buy from brands or retailers they think have a good record on environmental issues, Coresight reports. “The only truly sustainable shopping behavior is to buy less and, in 2020, we expect more consumers to ‘walk the walk’ by limiting purchases, if even only a little,” Coresight says. The research group also expects “automated, checkout-free convenience stores” to lead the shift toward frictionless in-store transactions. (Source: Coresight Research)

Total is adding as many as 20,000 new public EV charging points in the Netherlands. The oil giant secured a multi-government contract to install the charge points in three provinces in the country. Total will source 100% of the electricity from renewable power, such as wind and solar. Total Netherlands already has more than 4,500 public charging points. (Source: Electrek)

EV owners in China soon may be able to swap out their battery instead of waiting for a charge. The Chinese government is pushing research to standardize technology and procedures that would allow drivers to pull into any station and quickly swap out their battery for a fresh one. The system would save time and potentially lower the price of EVs by allowing consumers to buy or lease batteries separate from the vehicles. EV customers in China can already do this for specific model batteries, but Beijing’s effort seeks to develop battery-swap standards across brands. (Source: Automotive News)

To learn more about minimizing food waste in your foodservice operations, head over to NACS Magazine to read “Waste Not, Want Not” in the August 2019 issue, and for more on plastics, see “The New Plastic Economy” in the September 2019 issue. To read what industry veteran Jacob Schram has to say about capitalizing on the EV evolution, read “EVs Ahead” in the August 2019 issue.