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Sustainable technology successes from a green spring

Spring 2022 saw a number of interesting developments in sustainable retail technology.

Retailers have been reaping the rewards of environmentally friendly solutions during the past few months.

Environmental sustainability is currently one of the hottest topics in retail. Customers increasingly demand that the retailers and brands they give their business to follow environmentally sound practices. In addition, retailers are discovering that what is good for the environment is also good for operational efficiency and profitability.

Here are three examples of retailers reaping the benefits of sustainable technologies and strategies during spring 2022.

Regional Midwest discount retailer Meijer is diverting waste with the help of its customers. This spring, the retailer reached the milestone of diverting more than 1 million pounds of potential food waste through its Flashfood sustainability initiative. The program allows customers to purchase food — including meat, produce, seafood, deli, dairy and bakery products — nearing its sell date at up to 50% off, preventing it from potentially going into landfills.

Flashfood is a Canadian company that allows retailers to upload surplus close-dated grocery items to its app, where the items are available for purchase. Customers can go to the app, select a Meijer store, choose items they want to purchase and pay for them directly on the app. The customers then go to the store to pick up their items and confirm their order with customer service.

Walmart Canada
In April 2022, Walmart Canada unveiled its most advanced distribution center to date, one with leading-edge technology features and a focus on sustainability. Located in Surrey, British Columbia, the 300,000-sq.-ft., $175 million facility, which is slated to become a zero-waste facility, will also serve as a future hub for Walmart’s electric semi-truck fleet.

The building additionally incorporates an array of sustainable features, including an HVAC system designed to reclaim heat rejected from the refrigeration system and leverage it in radiant under-floor heating. 

Other sustainable technology features include:

  • LED lighting and intelligent controls, which can reduce energy consumption by 70%;
  • An efficient refrigeration system that uses environmentally preferable CFC free carbon dioxide (CO2);
  • Special fans to maintain temperature throughout the facility; and,
  • Natural filtration systems for water to protect the local waterways and fish hatchery in the vicinity.

Giant Eagle
In March, Pittsburgh-based food, fuel and pharmacy retailer Giant Eagle Inc. moved forward with a rollout of the Digi SmartSense Internet of Things (IoT)-based temperature monitoring platform.

Giant Eagle is now utilizing 32,000 new SmartSense digital temperature monitoring devices across its 215 pharmacies, 175 grocery locations and 92 convenience stores. With this latest phase of IoT deployment, the retailer is remotely, automatically and continuously monitoring its critical food assets.

The grocer now includes the SmartSense system for its walk-ins, chillers and refrigerators across all of its applicable supermarkets. The company can install temperature monitoring devices in minutes, combining wireless sensors, food probes, digital checklists, and remote monitoring software and analytics tools.

All SmartSense features and functions are accessible via a single compliance monitoring dashboard and mobile app. As a result, Giant Eagle can obtain a holistic view of operations at every level, providing actionable insights that the retailer uses to help drive quality control, employee productivity, and food safety compliance. It also is able to reduce food waste by minimizing spoilage, while improving energy efficiency.

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