Pleasanton-based Safeway Inc. has announced that it has switched to using reusable product containers rather than corrugated boxes to ship many types of produce from the farm fields.
This transition through its distribution channels and to final store destinations, which began last year, will eliminate the use of more than 17 million pounds of corrugated boxes, Safeway said.
Safeway has used RPCs for decades on many of its consumer brand categories, including bread, milk and soda. The company began testing RPCs in its distribution system for fresh wet-pack produce, including fruits and vegetables kept on ice until they reach the store, in early 2010. Making the transition for produce was a more complicated process than for other products because, to make it effective and decrease cardboard usage, Safeway's distributors and grower partners also had to commit to the switch.
Today, many types of produce travel from the field, to the distributor, to Safeway's product distribution centers and to the final store location in RPCs. The company's major supplier of RPCs, IFCO Systems, says Safeway's implementation of RPC usage to decrease waste was the fastest and most aggressive program roll-out to date.
Tom Nartker, Safeway's vice president of transportation, said employing environmentally friendly methods of product distribution is part of the company's overall commitment to sustainable business practices.
"This expansion into produce is a natural extension of best practices in logistics," Nartker said. "Safeway will continue to look for opportunities to expand the usage of RPCs into additional categories to have an even greater positive environmental impact."
The use of reusable, sustainable containers not only keeps non-recyclable shipping containers out of the supply chain, but it also has an even greater positive environmental impact. RPCs can be stacked higher and more densely than traditional boxes, allowing for more efficient shipping and requiring fewer trips to transport the same amount of product. This, in turn, decreases trucking emissions and traffic volume.
To date, the environmental benefits include:
• Eliminated the use of over 17 million pounds of corrugated boxes;
• Avoided the harvesting of approximately 114,000 trees; and,
• Reduced emissions of 37,518 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2E) from the environment, equivalent to removing 6,872 passenger cars off the road.
Safeway is among the country's leading companies to adopt environmental sustainability and ethical business practices.