As Canada’s second largest food retailer, Sobeys sells a large amount of Compliments, private label spring and distilled water. The water is sold as single units but is more frequently purchased in case packs containing 12x500ml and 24x500ml bottles. The supplier of most of this product is Ice River Springs, one of North America’s largest water bottlers with six plants in both Canada and the United States.
Ice River Springs is the only beverage company in North America with a vertically integrated recycling and bottling operation. All of our 500ml, 1.5L and the majority of our 4L Compliments bottles are produced completely from recycled plastic. The graphic below illustrates this closed-loop approach where mixed plastic waste is converted into the food grade polyethylene terepthalate (PET) used to manufacture new bottles.
A study conducted by the Green Story consulting group for Ice River found several meaningful environmental advantages when using recycled PET versus virgin PET resin. Here are a few of those calculated for Sobeys annual sales volume:
Closed-loop recycling produces 78% less greenhouse gas, which is equivalent to taking 476 cars off the road for one year.
The energy savings are 36 thousand MWh, which is equivalent to the electricity usage of 2,934 homes for one year.
23 million litres of water are saved.
1,952 tonnes of waste are diverted from landfill.
Sloan Hedges, Sobeys Procurement Manager of Beverages and Snacks says, “Ice River Springs has been a great supplier for our private label water program and their operation completely differentiates them from other water companies. We know that recycled bottles are important to our consumers.”
In Fall 2017, Sobeys began the transition to update labels for all of our bottles and new wrap for our 12 and 24 packs to improve the recycling messaging to our consumers, letting them know we have 100% recycled bottles. By the end of 2017, we also released 15L Compliments Spring and Distilled water (water cooler size in a 100% recycled bottle) in the Ontario and West stores.
Each year, Canadians waste $31 billion worth in food, from farm to table. Studies have shown that while food is wasted throughout the food supply chain, a staggering 47 per cent of food waste occurs at home. Food waste often ends up in landfills where it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. In metro Vancouver, food waste made up 40 per cent of landfill-bound garbage before organics were banned from landfills in January 2015.
Combating Food Waste in Vancouver
Metro Vancouver, a political body governing 21 Vancouver-area municipalities, one electoral area and one Treaty First Nation, partnered with Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) and 10 Safeway stores to build awareness of food waste and provide customers with food saving solutions.
Love Food Hate Waste is a campaign led by the UK charity, Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP). The campaign empowers us to reduce food waste by sharing recipe ideas, food storage tips and easy meal planning suggestions with customers.
From February to April 2016, 10 Safeway stores held food waste awareness campaigns complete with outreach booths and in-store radio messages. The campaign educated more than six hundred Safeway customers on how to reduce food waste at home. Customers were invited to talk about food waste, ask questions and share their own waste reduction tips. The tips shared by Love Food Hate Waste during the in-store campaigns and online through it’s website can help our customers save money on groceries while reducing the environmental impact of food waste.
Food Waste Tips
Our Safeway customers were invited to join in on the dialogue by sharing their own food waste tips through social media. Try out the food waste tips from our customers below:
- To make it easier to preserve and use garlic, peel all the cloves and put them in a jar filled with olive oil. Store the jar in the fridge and the cloves will keep for a while.
- Keep store-bought strawberries in a glass canning jar rather than the plastic package they come in. The strawberries will last about a week longer.
- Make a batch of pesto with herbs and nuts that need to be used up and freeze it in ice cube trays. Pop a cube of pesto into any dish that needs flavour.
- To use up older veggies, throw several together in a roasting dish with some spices and roast in the oven. They turn out great! Try broccoli with lots of garlic or sweet potatoes with cayenne, cinnamon, and thyme.
For more information on Love Food Hate Waste, visit their website here
When designing the new Sobeys Inc. corporate office in Mississauga, Ontario, two key elements were top of mind: minimizing the building’s carbon footprint while creating a healthy and comfortable work environment for our employees. On January 23, 2015, less than two years after breaking ground, employees from four area buildings started moving into the new Tahoe Office, named for its location on Tahoe Boulevard.
To reduce the demand and associated environmental impacts with the transportation of products and materials, the base of the Tahoe building was constructed using materials containing recycled regional content. All the lighting installations contain low concentrations of mercury, to reduce the human and environmental impacts associated with mercury emissions.
Quick Impact Facts
- The Tahoe building uses 20 per cent less energy and 40 per cent less water than similar builds.
- The more than 810 Sobeys employees who call the building home are provided with organic, recyclable and garbage receptacles to maximize the amount of garbage that is diverted from landfills and waste incineration. The most recent waste audit concluded that the current waste diversion rate (percentage of uncontaminated waste materials diverted from landfill) is 82 per cent!
- One unique element of the Tahoe building is that it features a vegetated green roof comprised of materials that reflect incoming solar radiation to limit heat and provide a habitat for birds.
- The Tahoe building was also designed to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED ®) certification, a voluntary, consensus-based standard administrated by the Canada Green Building Council that represents environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility.
Installing our windows on March 5, 2014
Our self-sustaining green roof as of August 9, 2015
Traditional hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants have an approximate GWP of 4,000 kg of CO2 equivalent emissions for every 1 kg of refrigerant leaked, whereas the new refrigeration system has 1 kg of CO2 emissions for every 1 kg of refrigerant leaked.
The installation of new CO2 refrigerant systems with heat reclamation not only makes environmental sense, but is less expensive in the long run to operate and maintain. We currently have 72 transcritical CO2 refrigerant systems installed in four different provinces. Of these, 34 have been recognized by the Greenchill platinum-level certification award for notable achievements in using natural refrigerants.
In February of 2014, Sobeys Québec began selling Fairtrade bananas purchased from Equifruit Inc., a Montréal-based produce company and a member of the global Fairtrade movement.
Fairtrade Canada is a national, nonprofit certification organization, and the only Canadian member of Fairtrade International (FLO). Fairtrade Canada provides certification, licensing and promotion for all Fairtrade-certified products in Canada. As a licensee, Equifruit subscribes to the principles of fair trade, and only works with similarly-minded producers. The company works on behalf of Sobeys Inc. as a fruit broker in sourcing high quality product that meets the requirements of our customers.
Fairtrade stimulates economic activity for smaller growers in the developing world, by making sure that growers are paid fairly for the products they supply. Pricing includes a $1 per case social premium that is pooled by members of the growers’ cooperative and subsequently invested in community projects and in improving working conditions on plantations. Since the first Fairtrade banana was delivered in 2014, over 50,000 cases of bananas have been distributed and sold in Québec. Demand has quickly grown to roughly twenty pallets a week which equates to approximately 96,000 bananas sold through the store network! The only major grocer in Canada that sells Fairtrade bananas is IGA and IGA extra in Québec.
The program has provided income to approximately four hundred banana producers in northern Peru. In fiscal 2015, Sobeys provided nearly $30,000 in social premiums and to date the company has contributed substantially more money. The cooperative is called APPBOSA (or Asociación de Pequeños Productores de Banano Orgánico Samán y Anexos) and encompasses 1,482 acres of land. The allocations of the development funding are determined by the members of the Cooperative and have been utilized in three ways; improving working conditions, worker training and community investment. Most recently the cooperative has built a new cable conveyor system to move the fruit from the field to packing stations, thereby minimizing physical strain on workers. Additionally, a tetanus clinic was established to protect both field and packing station workers, training sessions on best practices were provided, and the community benefited through the addition of soccer stands for the local field and through instrument donations to a local school music program.
The economic independence that Fairtrade and Sobeys Inc. have brought to the APPBOSA community brings a sense of pride and restores dignity with workers in a historically impoverished area. Sobeys has benefited by being able to provide high quality bananas to our Québec customers.
“The quality of the fruit is outstanding. Even with a price tag that is slightly higher than organic, IGA customers seek out Equifruit bananas in store because of this higher quality and Fairtrade association.”-Enrico Charest, Head Buyer, Sobeys Québec
In 2015, Sobeys was named a Canadian Finalist- Retailer of the Year because of its continued positive work with Fairtrade Canada
Equifruit Inc. President Jennie Coleman (Left) is pictured with APPBOSA Export Manager, Juan Calderon and his family.
Students and teachers in a local school pose with Musical instruments donated by APPBOSA