Article by Russell Redman of Supermarket News

The Kroger Co. unveiled a new sustainable packaging commitment for its Our Brands private-label portfolio, increased investment in minority- and women-owned businesses and reduced retail food waste in releasing its 2020 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Report.

Cincinnati-based Kroger said Monday in this year’s ESG Report that it aims to achieve 100% recyclable, compostable and/or reusable packaging for all Our Brands products by 2030. To that end, the company will complete a baseline product packaging footprint to fully understand current packaging impacts.

Goals include boosting recycled content in packaging so Our Brands collectively contain at least 10% recycled content in packaging, cutting back on unnecessary packaging and raising awareness among Kroger customers about how to properly manage packaging from Our Brands product after use.

Also in the area of sustainability, Kroger has committed to reduce absolute enterprisewide greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 (from a 2018 base year) as well as to eliminate tropical deforestation in the raw materials and products it sources into Kroger manufacturing facilities and into its fresh meat case by 2025.

“Our annual ESG report underpins Kroger’s vision to serve America through food inspiration and uplift,” Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said in a statement. “We are committed to continuing to integrate ESG metrics into our business strategy, driving shared value for our associates, customers, communities and company. We’re pleased to share Kroger’s latest performance on key topics, including our 2020 sustainability goals and Zero Hunger | Zero Waste metrics. We also look to what lies ahead, and we’re proud to announce the first of several new priorities and commitments that will help affirm Kroger’s sustainability leadership through the next decade and beyond.”

On the environmental front, Kroger said that in 2019 it cut down on retail food waste by 4% and improved food waste diversion from landfills by 5%. The nation’s largest supermarket operator noted that, since introducing Zero Hunger | Zero Waste in 2017, it has reduced total retail food waste by 13% through strategic ordering best practices, item markdown programs and innovative supply-chain initiatives.

Overall since 2017, Kroger store associates have improved food waste diversion from landfills by 18% via more food waste recycling, including animal feed, anaerobic digestion and composting programs for food that’s no longer edible. The company aims to achieve zero food waste by 2025.

Social initiatives during 2019 included a nearly $3.4 billion investment in minority- and women-owned businesses, up 12% year over year and a 30% increase since 2017, Kroger reported.

Last year also saw Kroger steer the equivalent of 493 million meals toward efforts to reduce food in security in the communities served by its stores, including food and funds donated to Feeding America and its affiliated local food banks and other hunger-relief partners. The retailer said the contribution lifted the company’s total to 1.1 billion meals, topping its three-year target.

Click here to read the full article at Supermarket News

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