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Kroger's sustainability efforts reduce costs, help communities, protect environment

Installing Aerators On An Oakley Kroger Store Faucet.jpg

CINCINNATI (WKRC) "It's good for our environment, it's good for our customers, it's good for Kroger," said Patty Leesemann, the public affairs manager for the Cincinnati and Dayton division of Kroger.

As Kroger builds new stores and renovates their existing ones, they're taking steps to make them more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly. Their Oakley store recently become the first silver LEED certified store in the region.

Lesseman explained, "Part of the things that got us to our LEED certification are installing aerators to reduce the water flow that is coming out of our faucets. We also installed some electric car chargers. For low-emission vehicles, we've installed parking spots for those vehicles. We have skylights here throughout the entire store. With our LED lighting, when there's a lot of ambient light, our LED lighting adjusts for that."

These energy-saving efforts at this and other stores are producing tangible results.

"So far, since 2010, we've saved 86 million kilowatts of electricity, which is about a reduction of 35%. That's almost like Kroger taking 12,000 cars off of the road for one year." said Leesemann.

Sourcing food from local suppliers keeps emissions from transportation down, and donating unsold but healthy food benefits the community and also keeps the waste out of landfills.

Leesemann said, "We donated 3 million pounds of food in 2016 to food banks and food pantries. That equates to about 2.4 million meals for people that are hungry right here in Cincinnati and Dayton."

Kroger's sustainability efforts also involve materials, including Kroger's upcoming roll-out of newly designed milk containers which will save 5 millions pounds of plastic per year. Local Kroger stores are also working to reduce, reuse, and recycle both their plastic and cardboard.

"So far in 2017, we've recycled 13,000 pounds of cardboard, which is pretty amazing. That's a 2.5 [percent] increase over last year's numbers. As far as plastic, we've recycled 115,000 pounds of plastic since the beginning of this year. That's more of a 25% increase over last year," said Leesemann.

Kroger is a business, so ultimately, they are trying to control their costs, but they can also do something bigger than that through sustainability: do the right thing.

Leesemann explained, "10 to 12 years ago, we were having to throw away food, and our associates didn't like doing that because they knew their were people in the community that could benefit from that. They love being able to donate this food for people to eat."

Through store efficiencies and eliminating waste, Kroger is helping the community, themselves, their employees, their customers, and the environment.

"We rely on our feedback from our customers, and they really help us drive business decisions," said Leesemann.

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