North American supermarkets – measure carbon to reduce it

Sobeys supermarket of Nova Scotia, Canada, set a goal in 2008 to reduce its carbon footprint by 15 per cent and reduce the amount of waste in landfills by 30 per cent, in 5 years, which means by May 2013, according to a report in US publication Supermarket News.

It developed an online database tool which sent out carbon reports, initially every month but then changed to every year. The data was taken from electricity and gas bills.

After four years, it had reduced carbon footprint in stores by 9.4 per cent, in distribution centres by 22 per cent and on vehicles by 12 per cent.  The stores contribute 84 per cent of total emissions so there is still progress to be made.

The company is now fitting LED lights and glass doors on store units holding dairy products.

It found that 28 per cent of the carbon footprint comes from leaks of refrigerant, so this has been an area for targeting, moving to refrigeration systems which only use carbon dioxide as a refrigerant.

To improve vehicle emissions, it has reduced engine idling time, having vehicles sized to the volumes they need to carry, making vehicles more aerodynamic.

It uses heat from the refrigeration systems to heat water and air spaces. This provides 75 per cent of water heating in peak times.

To reduce landfill it has installed organic waste recycling units (composters) in 44 stores.

It is also charging 5 cents for a plastic bag to promote bag re-using.



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