Retailers

How Raley’s Is Fighting Food Waste

Director of Sustainability Mark Koppang talks tech-based solutions
Raley's Sustainability
Photograph: Shutterstock

Raley’s is on an environmental mission to reduce its waste and use of micro-plastics, increase its recycling efforts, conserve water, focus on energy efficiencies and more. “Raley’s has taken an innovative stance on the environment because it creates value for our customers—and it’s the right thing to do,” says the West Sacramento, Calif.-based grocer’s website. “As a result, we continuously look for new technologies and strategies to reduce our carbon footprint.”

On the food waste front, for the past few years, Raley’s has used a software management program to identify expiring products with the goal of reducing food waste, said Raley’s Director of Sustainability Mark Koppang.

“We have been able to make a significant impact on food waste,” Koppang told WGB regarding Raley’s use of Pinpoint’s Date Check Pro software solution. “Over the past two years, we’ve prevented more than 500,000 pounds of food waste by identifying products expiring soon with Date Check Pro—some only needing to be rotated back to the front of the shelf and others needing a markdown.

“We’ve also been able to save our shoppers who purchase these discounted products more than $1 million in the past two years,” he continued. “Beyond products sold, we’ve also been able to donate significantly more products by catching them prior to expiration rather than after, but we haven’t quantified that exact impact so far.”

Raley’s, which implemented the software solution three years ago, finds Pinpoint’s program has been instrumental in assisting its in-store teams to identify near-code and out-of-code date items in a timely manner. “Doing so allows us to maximize our sell-through by rotating our stock, and also effectively identify items for donation prior to them going out of code and needing to be disposed of,” said Koppang.

While historically grocers have had to check each product’s sell-by date by hand, software management systems such as Pinpoint’s have streamlined the process and delivered results.

“Date Check Pro stems from my days spot checking dates at Festival Foods. I was never satisfied with the reactive nature of the work—hunting for the expired items by combing through section after section and filling up carts with already past-date food,” said Pinpoint Software Inc. CEO Andrew Hoeft. “The drive to find a more predictable way to prevent customers from finding those items before myself or my team did and saving the store money, was something I stirred over daily."

And while the use of the Date Check Pro hasn’t eliminated the need for Raley’s labor force to manage the identification and removal of expiring products, Koppang said, use of this program has “streamlined the process, allowing us to incrementally reduce our labor for this task.”

With sustainability becoming increasingly important to the grocery industry and businesses around the world, Raley’s is also focusing its environmental efforts and striving to make a difference in a number of areas including:

  • Waste Stream Reduction. “We work hard to reduce the amount of paper waste we generate,” the company said. Just by printing receipts on both sides of the paper, Raley’s has decreased register tape use by 40%.
  • Recycling. Each year, more than half of the waste generated by Raley’s stores is diverted from area landfills by being reused or recycled. Our produce cull and trims are reused for energy generation and the grocer recycles its cardboard, plastic stretch wrap, corrugated containers, waxed corrugated containers, newspaper and pallets.
  • Reduction of Micro-Plastics. Raley’s has partnered with Take Care Tahoe in an effort to reduce the amount of micro-plastics found in Lake Tahoe and the surrounding basin. Its “Drink Tahoe Tap” campaign is designed to educate consumers on the effects of disposable water bottle litter and micro-plastic pollution.
  • Water Conservation. Reducing water use while maintaining high standards of cleanliness and food safety is another challenge Raley’s has embraced, the company said. Using drought resistant landscaping in its parking lots, optimizing water usage in its produce departments, and faucet aerators have contributed to overall water savings.
  • Transportation and Logistics. Raley’s replaced its entire fleet of diesel-powered tractors with the latest high-efficiency model. It also upgraded or replaced refrigerated trailers to ensure all use energy-efficient refrigeration systems, reducing air pollution. Electric-vehicle charging stations at select locations allow customers and employees to power up while they shop or work.
  • Store Design and Build Improvements. “Each remodel and new store build is an opportunity to enhance sustainability,” the company said. Newly remodeled stores have water-efficient faucets, low-flow toilets and waterless urinals. New stores feature long-lasting concrete flooring instead of vinyl. LED lighting is used for all remodels and new store construction. Solar arrays on some buildings allow for “substantial savings on power usage.
  • Refrigeration, Heating and Cooling.Most Raley’s stores use highly reflective “cool roofs” to reduce air conditioning loads. The company also uses stratified air systems, which consume less energy to regulate air temperatures. “We employ innovative technologies to reduce our refrigerant emission rate, earning our company coveted awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” notes Raley’s website.

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