Respect the Environment

Waste Reduction

  • Target Met
  • On Track
  • Target Not Met
Targets Achievements Progress
Waste Reduction
Reduce waste from corporate stores in each region by an additional 5% relative to 2011 results: Atlantic, 72%; Quebec, 62%; Ontario, 72%; West, 53%. Diverted corporate store-generated waste as follows: Atlantic, 66%; Quebec, 60%; Ontario, 74%; West, 54%.
Achieve an average of 80% waste diversion from landfill at distribution centres. Diverted 81% of distribution centre-generated waste nationally.
Achieve an average of 80% waste diversion from landfill at store support centres. Diverted 76% of store support centre-generated waste nationally.
Expand organic waste diversion in two additional distribution centres. Expanded organic waste diversion programs in eight distribution centres.
Increase the use of Reusable Plastic Containers (RPC), used for shipping, to 19 million cases. Increased the use of Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) to 14.8 million cases. We did not achieve our target; however, we have quadrupled the use of RPCs since 2011.
Divert 900,000 pounds of plastic plant pots and flats from landfill, to bring total to 5 million pounds diverted since inception of our national recycling program in 2008. Diverted approximately 1,135,000 pounds of plastic plant pots and flats from landfill in 2012, bringing our total to 5,235,000 pounds of plastic plant pots and flats diverted from landfill since the inception of our national recycling program in 2008.
Roll out e-stubs (paperless paystubs) for colleagues at corporate stores and distribution centres. Program rolled out to all colleagues and franchisees nationally, eliminating the need to mail approximately 1,395,000 paper paystubs annually.
Food Waste
Monitor and assess perishable food waste in corporate stores and distribution centres. Collaborated with industry associations in Canada and the U.S.A. to launch initiatives to reduce food waste in both our supply chain and corporate stores. Targets will be developed in 2013.
Pilot a perishable food diversion program in partnership with food recovery programs. Program in place where select corporate stores in the Greater Toronto Area are partnered with Second Harvest to donate fresh perishable food items.
Work closely with the Loblaw Chair in Sustainable Food Production, Dr. Ralph Martin, at the University of Guelph to identify and develop knowledge about key issues/trends around food sustainability. The Chair is focused on sustainable food production in Canada. Research areas include reducing food waste, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture.
  • Target Met
  • On Track
  • Target Not Met
Reusable Plastic Containers Corporate Stores Distribution and Store Support Centres Food Waste

Loblaw has a history of committing to waste reduction initiatives as demonstrated by our charge-for-plastic shopping bag program. Since 2007, we have reduced the number of plastic shopping bags from our stores by more than five billion. Our focus on waste diversion has spawned a wide range of initiatives across our organization including, most recently, efforts to address the critical issue of food waste.

Reusable Plastic Containers

The amount of produce shipped in Reusable Plastic Containers (RPC) rose to 14.8 million cases in 2012 – up from 3.5 million in 2011. The increase was largely a result of our ongoing efforts with local growers to convert containers for high-volume products such as beans, corn, carrots, peaches, grapes and citrus fruits. To date, 283 products are being shipped in RPCs. We work closely with growers to address the operational implications associated with making the switch from waxed or regular corrugated cardboard, which has traditionally been used for shipping produce, to RPCs. Once they have converted to RPCs, many growers attest to benefits such as more efficient cooling and faster loading and unloading. The additional benefits of RPCs are superior product quality, reduced damage and lower materials, labour, shipping and waste management costs.

Compared to waxed corrugated cardboard boxes, RPCs require less energy and produce less solid waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because they can be used many times over.

Corporate Stores

In each of our four regions, we set a target of improving waste diversion by 5% over 2011 levels.

In Western Canada, we achieved a 54% diversion rate. The improvement was primarily driven by increased organic waste diversion programs. We now have 55 stores participating in the multi-stream recycling program. In addition to cardboard and paper, this program accepts traditionally non-recycled materials such as hard and soft plastics and waxed corrugated cardboard. Sixteen of our stores in British Columbia also have programs in place to divert organic waste to commercial compost operations. We are preparing for a ban on organic waste in Metro Vancouver landfill sites, which will be phased in by 2015.

In Ontario, we achieved a 74% diversion rate. Today, 106 of 125 corporate stores in Ontario participate in the multi-stream recycling program. Meanwhile, growth in farm-based anaerobic digesters for organic waste as feedstock and renewable energy has enabled us to improve our organic waste diversion rate.

In Quebec, we achieved a 60% diversion rate, as we continued to expand the organic waste program. By year-end, 22 stores were participating in a composting program in which stores are paired with local farmers who have on-site composting facilities. The farmers collect the organic waste and convert it into nutrient-rich fertilizer. We plan to add approximately 25 more stores to the program in 2013.

In Atlantic Canada, we achieved a 66% overall diversion rate. The Atlantic Superstore location in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, diverted 89% of its waste. In 2012, the Elmsdale team conducted a store audit to identify all waste streams and how best to manage them. Follow-up actions included expanding the multi-stream recycling program to cover waxed cardboard and black plastic containers, tracking all perishable food items given to local food banks, and updating posters above the recycling containers to make it easier for colleagues to separate waste. The store intends to pilot a zero waste diversion program in 2013. Diversion rates in Atlantic Canada remain the highest in the country thanks to legislation in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island which mandate organic waste diversion.

While we made good progress in 2012, results continued to be hampered by the limited availability of cost-effective diversion options.

Distribution and Store Support Centres

Our distribution centres (DCs) have a strong track record of waste diversion and achieved an exceptional 81% diversion rate in 2012. Among the highest achievers were Pitt Meadows, British Columbia (92%), Boucherville, Quebec (86%), Lakeside, Nova Scotia (91%) and Maple Grove, Ontario (89%).

Waste generated at DCs includes wood pallets, corrugated cardboard, plastic film wrap, metal, food waste and other packaging materials, most of which we aim to recycle. Robust organic waste programs are now in place at eight DCs – Surrey and Vancouver (British Columbia), Freeport and Edmonton (Alberta), Maple Grove (Ontario), Lakeside (Nova Scotia) and Moncton and Caledonia (New Brunswick).

All DCs are audited annually to ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations and with our corporate environmental management programs. We also retain third-party evaluators to conduct waste audits at select DCs in order to evaluate the waste generated and identify additional diversion opportunities.

Each DC sets its own targets and encourages workforce participation. DCs post quarterly diversion results and discuss performance at worker huddles. Some DCs have improved recycling containers to make it easier to separate waste, appointed waste champions to spearhead initiatives, and created internal colleague engagement campaigns. At Maple Grove, the “We hate waste” campaign was well received in 2012. In select DCs, colleagues were given a chance to earn a day off by recycling empty plastic wrap rolls.

We achieved a 76% diversion rate at store support centres, where recovered waste typically comprises paper, beverage containers and organic material from cafeterias and kitchens. We also have a program for diverting old computers, printers and the like to electronics recyclers. Old furniture is either used at other Loblaw locations or donated to charities. The support centres in Calgary and Montreal achieved the highest diversion rates in 2012, at 84% and 80%, respectively.

Food Waste

As the world grapples with concerns about the environment, how to feed a growing global population and global economic woes, food waste has become a major issue which is capturing the attention of governments, businesses, academics and society at large. In Canada, it is estimated that consumers and Canada’s food industry waste 40% of the food produced each year, valued at an estimated $27 billion.1 2 Not only is wasting food an economic issue, it is also a significant environmental problem. More greenhouse gases are created from food waste than from sources such as plastic packaging.3

Reducing food waste is one of the priorities identified in Loblaw’s long-range CSR plan. It is also one of the first orders of business for Dr. Ralph Martin, Loblaw Companies Limited Chair in Sustainable Food Production at the University of Guelph. Dr. Martin is collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders to share insights and develop practical strategies for reducing food waste, as part of his mandate to lead change in Canadian food production systems within the context of sustainability, the environment, communities and the economy. Dr. Martin and his team currently have three major research projects underway: a household audit to identify the extent of consumer food waste in Ontario; a climate change project to determine how to establish uniform stands of clover in wheat crops to build soil organic matter; and research into reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture.

Among the steps Loblaw is taking to reduce food waste, select stores and distribution centres have established programs for donating perishable food items to local food banks and food recovery programs, as well as diverting items into organic waste streams for energy production. In 2012, select corporate stores in the Greater Toronto Area provided Second Harvest with more than 716,000 pounds of fresh perishable food items. Additionally, select distribution centres donated more than 1.6 million pounds of fresh perishable food items to local food banks in their communities.

We partnered with The Conference Board of Canada to co-chair the Canadian Food Summit. The two-day conference brought together food retailers, industry representatives, experts and academics to discuss food in Canada, with a focus on quality, price, availability and waste, and to explore the development of a Canadian Food Strategy.

We also spearheaded an industry project to remove obstacles to recycling thermoformed clamshell packaging. This change not only increases the recyclability of the package, it also reduces organic waste by helping customers’ food stay fresh longer once it reaches their refrigerators.

  • 1Statistics include food that is suitable for human consumption, or will be fit for consumption after processing – such as wheat.
  • 2Gooch, M., A. Felfel, and N. Marenick. Food Waste in Canada (2010). Value Chain Management Centre, George Morris Centre.
  • 3Cut Waste, Grow Profit (2012). Value Chain Management Centre, George Morris Centre.
Aquaculture Stewardship Council:

The ASC is an independent, not-for-profit organization that aims to be the leading global certification and labelling program for responsibly farmed seafood. The ASC manages a global standard for responsibly farmed seafood and is committed to preserving marine and freshwater habitats while endorsing social standards.

Artificial flavours and colours:

Dyes and chemicals used in common artificial ingredients. Artificial flavours and colours have been linked to skin reactions, hyperactivity in children, nausea, high blood pressure and breathing problems, among other issues.

Auxiliary power unit (APU):

A small diesel engine that provides climate control and electrical power for the truck's sleeper cab and engine block heater without idling the truck during downtime on the road.


The return movement of a truck from its original destination to its point of origin, especially when carrying goods back over all or part of the same route.

Farm-raised (seafood):

Fish farming involves raising fish commercially in tanks or enclosures.

Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI):

GFSI ( is an international alliance started by the world's largest food retailers. GFSI has benchmarked the leading global food safety schemes and integrated them so that when a manufacturer is compliant with a GFSI-benchmarked scheme, it is automatically accepted as equivalent to all other corresponding GFSI-recognized standards.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI):

Globally applicable sustainability reporting guidelines to assist corporations in reporting on the economic, environmental and social performance of their operations.

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup:

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, is one of the largest direct action conservation programs in Canada. A conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF, it aims to promote understanding of shoreline litter issues by engaging Canadians in rehabilitating shoreline areas through cleanups. The initiative is made possible from partial proceeds of Loblaw's charge-for-plastic shopping bag program.

Green CommUnity School Grants:

The Green CommUnity School Grants program helps foster innovation for the environment among Canada's youth by providing grants of up to $5,000 to Canadian elementary and secondary schools working on conservation projects. Spearheaded by WWF, the program is made possible from partial proceeds of Loblaw's charge-for-plastic shopping bag program.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions:

The release of atmospheric gases that trap heat from the sun and warm the planet's surface. Human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and the deforestation of tropical forests have contributed to elevated levels of GHGs (especially carbon dioxide and methane) in recent decades.

Guiding Stars:

An in-store tool that rates all food products up to three stars based on their nutritional value to help guide customers to healthier food options.

Intermodal transportation:

The use of more than one mode of transport (e.g., ship, rail and truck) to ship goods.

Light-emitting diode (LED):

LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are a form of lighting that is extremely energy efficient and long-lasting. LED lights last up to 2.5 times longer and use as much as 56% less electricity than standard fluorescent lighting.

Lighting retrofit:

Changing the component parts or an entire lighting fixture to reduce electricity consumption.

Long-combination vehicle (LCV):

In Canada, any combination of tractor unit and semi-trailers more than 25 metres in overall length is considered to be an LCV. LCVs can pull more volume using the same power source – leading to fewer trucks on the road, improved fuel efficiency and a reduced carbon footprint.

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC):

An independent, non-profit organization that maintains the most widely respected global standard for the certification of wild-capture fisheries as sustainable and well managed. MSC harnesses market forces to drive change on the water by recognizing and rewarding sustainable fisheries, influencing the choices people make when buying seafood, and working with our partners to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis.

MSC chain-of-custody (CoC):

The MSC chain-of-custody standard for seafood traceability makes sure that the MSC label is only displayed on seafood from an MSC certified sustainable fishery. It assures consumers and seafood buyers that the fish they are buying can be traced back to a fishery that meets the MSC environmental standard for sustainable fishing.

National Sweater Day:

On a set day in February, Canadians are asked to put on their favourite sweater and turn the heat down a few degrees to help WWF take action against climate change and work toward a sustainable future. National Sweater Day is made possible from partial proceeds of Loblaw's charge-for-plastic shopping bag program.

Ontario Corn Fed Beef (OCFB):

The Ontario Corn Fed Beef program provides consumers with an identifiable Ontario brand of beef – known to be consistent, premium and locally raised. The feed of cattle plays a big role in the flavour of the beef. In this program, cattle consume a high percentage of corn in their diets, giving the beef superior marbling which makes it the most tender, tasty beef anywhere.

Palm oil:

A type of vegetable oil, derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. Oil palms originated in West Africa, but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. Today, almost all palm oil is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET):

A commonly used plastic that is transparent, lightweight, strong, safe, shatterproof and readily recyclable.

Transcritical refrigeration system:

An advanced refrigeration system that uses carbon dioxide as its sole refrigerant.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2010 emission standards:

These stringent standards, which took effect in January 2010, are aimed at reducing atmospheric pollution by significantly reducing the amount of nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and hydrocarbon emissions from diesel engine-powered heavy trucks.

Wild-caught (seafood):

Seafood harvested from their natural marine habitat.

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