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Regional grocers Giant and Wakefern have embarked on new efforts to reduce waste and promote sustainable retailing.

The Giant Company, Wakefern pursue more sustainable retailing

Giant adopts HowGood ratings system, Wakefern joins Beyond the Bag

A pair of regional grocers, The Giant Company and Wakefern Food Corp., have embarked on new efforts to reduce waste and promote sustainable retailing.

Carlisle, Pa.-based Giant, part of Ahold Delhaize USA, has adopted the HowGood ratings system to help customers gauge product sustainability while shopping. Meanwhile, Wakefern — the parent of the ShopRite supermarket chain — has joined the Beyond the Bag Initiative, a coalition to find eco-friendly options to the single-use plastic shopping bag now used by mass retailers nationwide.

Giant said yesterday that customers of its Giant Direct and Martin’s Direct online grocery platforms can now access HowGood environmental and social impact ratings. Describing itself as the world’s largest product-sustainability database, High Falls, N.Y.-based HowGood analyzes each product ingredient against environmental and social criteria — including farming practices, treatment of animals, labor conditions and chemical use — and rates it on a scale of one to three using leaf icons. 

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The HowGood system implemented by Giant rates a product's sustainability on a scale of one to three leaf icons, with three being the best.

The more leaves a product has, the higher its sustainability, and any product that receives one, two or three leaves is one of the most sustainable on the market, according to Giant. Besides being able to shop by the HowGood rating, customers can also can search products by specific sustainable attributes, the retailer said. 

“Our new partnership with HowGood reinforces our commitment to healing the planet, whether it’s through greater product transparency or reducing waste,” Manuel Haro, vice president of strategy and communications at Giant, said in a statement. “We continue to explore opportunities throughout The Giant Company’s entire operation to do what we can to further lessen our environmental footprint and empower sustainable choices in our customers’ shopping experience.”

The Giant Company operates nearly 190 stores under the Giant, Martin’s and Giant Heirloom Market banners in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USA announced yesterday that its Stop & Shop and Giant Food grocery chains also have implemented the HowGood ratings system.

In joining Beyond the Bag, managed by the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern aims to help identify, test and scale design solutions for a more consumer-friendly, sustainable shopping bag. The retailer-owned cooperative’s store banners include ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market.

The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag was launched last summer by the Center for the Circular Economy at green investment firm Closed Loop Partners. The coalition’s three-year Beyond the Bag Initiative calls on retailers to “think outside the box” to address the global waste issue of plastic shopping bags while upholding consumer convenience.

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ShopRite has encouraged shoppers to adopt reusable bags since single-use plastic bags were phased out across its market areas.

“For more than four decades, the Wakefern cooperative has supported sustainability through efforts such as recycling plastic bags and other materials, reducing food waste, and implementing energy efficient technology at retail and in our distribution centers,” stated Karen Meleta, chief communications officer for Wakefern. “Encouraging our customers to use reusable bags to shop and reducing dependency on single use plastic and traditional paper bags is another important part of our commitment to the environment.”

Wakefern noted that its supermarket banners already offer shoppers an array of reusable bags, and the company said it seeks more sustainable designs for a “better bag at checkout.” 

“We believe the best bag is a reusable bag,” Meleta added, “and we are proud to work with fellow consortium partners and innovators to create an even better retail bag and further advance our waste reduction initiatives.”

Food and drug retail participants in the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag include CVS Health, Target and Walmart as founding partners; The Kroger Co. as the grocery sector lead partner; and Walgreens, Albertsons Cos., Ahold Delhaize USA, Hy-Vee, Meijer and Wakefern as supporting partners. Dick’s Sporting Goods acts as sports and outdoor retailer sector lead partner. New York-based Closed Loop Partners serves as managing partner.

“Wakefern’s connection to the communities its stores serve, and its alignment with the consortium’s broader vision, lays the essential foundation for meaningful impact at scale,” commented Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “We are thrilled to welcome Wakefern Food Corp. to the consortium to help build more pathways for collaboration that will create and incentivize sustainable, long-term change for retail.” 

Overall, Wakefern’s nearly 50 members independently own and operate 363 supermarkets in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. 

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