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Kroger Dishes on Its Journey Toward Sustainable Operations

Retailer has updated many of its sourcing policies and got a leg up on its goals in 2017
Kroger Storefront
Kroger

In a report published this week, Kroger Co. detailed the progress it has made on its continued journey toward its Zero Hunger Zero Waste initiative and outlined other sustainability goals it hopes to achieve by 2020. 

Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO, applauded Kroger associates for their "incredible progress" on its "business strategy and sustainability journey in 2017," and highlighted the year's achievements. 

"We launched our three-year Restock Kroger plan, engaged more deeply with our purpose, To Feed the Human Spirit; made progress on our 2020 sustainability goals; and introduced Kroger's ambitious Zero Hunger, Zero Waste social impact plan," he said. "These are all profoundly important to who we are and what we stand for as a company."

The new report was the retailer's first in accordance with the latest GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) Sustainability Reporting Standards, and it used stakeholder feedback to identify the most important sustainability issues. 

2017 Year in Review from The Kroger Co Stories on Vimeo.

According to Jessica Adelman, Kroger's group VP of corporate affairs, the sustainability report offers "more forward-looking commitments, transparency and disclosure around Kroger's shared values with society than ever before" and that "going forward, people want to shop and partner with, work for and invest in companies with purpose, vision, shared values and ambitious social impact goals."

Among the new and refined sustainability commitments outlined in the report are:

  • A formalized sustainability commitment and statement on human rights.
  • A responsible sourcing framework. 
  • An updated animal welfare policy, which includes a new deadline for phasing out the use of gestation crates for sows.
  • An updated sustainable seafood policy.
  • policy to protect pollinators.

As part of its Zero Hunger, Zero Waste initiative, Kroger directed a total of 325 meals in the form of both food and funds to its community, including 91.2 million pounds of food donated companywide to local food banks through its Zero Hunger, Zero Waste Rescue program. In total, Kroger directed a total of $358 million in charitable donations, about $181 million of which was focused on ending hunger in its communities.

Additionally, the retailer worked with the World Wildlife Fund to conduct a detailed food waste analysis and set a plan for achieving zero food waste by 2025. Kroger achieved a 77% waste diversion rate in 2017, which it attributes to waste reduction and recycling activities across the business. It is also working to become more sustainable energy-wise, having overhauled 1,500 stores with LED lights last year, saving 104 million kWh of electricity and helping achieve a 38% electricity savings since 2000.

According to the report, 21% of eggs sold at Kroger are from cage-free hens, 87% of wild-caught seafood is sustainably sourced, and all milk and dairy suppliers for its plants are currently enrolled in the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program.

The report also touched on how Kroger is supporting its customers and employees, having created 10,000 new jobs in 2017, introducing the Feed Your Future program to help its associates further their educations and launching the OptUp healthy shopping app. 

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