Sustainability Needs ROI: Publix Speaker

DALLAS — A company's sustainability initiatives need to make sense for the bottom line, cautioned Michael Hewett, manager of environmental services at Publix Super Markets, during a presentation at Food Marketing Institute's Future Connect conference here Thursday.

DALLAS — A company's sustainability initiatives need to make sense for the bottom line, cautioned Michael Hewett, manager of environmental services at Publix Super Markets [3], during a presentation at Food Marketing Institute's Future Connect conference here Thursday.

"A practice is only sustainable if you can at least break even, if not get a [return on investment]," he said.

Hewett cited in-store bottle and can collection as an example, noting that partnering with outside entities to promote such collection is a more practical way to approach sustainability for retailers.

In addition, he said that although Publix would like to find a suitable alternative to Styrofoam packaging for some prepared foods, the company has not yet been able to find a cost-effective replacement that fulfills the requirements.

Meanwhile Publix has trained its category managers and buyers about sustainability so they can look for opportunities in that area to work with their suppliers.

"As retailers get more engaged, it's an opportunity for manufacturers to collaborate in some way, shape or form," said Bob Branham, director of customer sustainability at General Mills, who presented with Hewett as a part of a discussion on retailer-vendor collaboration.