As a family business nurturing families, Sobeys is a sustainable grocery leader a champion of reducing the harmful elements that negatively affect the communities we serve. This Sobeys sustainability summary outlines our methods and values across all the important pillars of environmental protection.
Taking steps to tackle climate change
Addressing the causes of climate change is one of the top priorities at Sobeys when it comes to long-term goals. In fact, Sobeys has a plan to achieve net-zero emissions company-wide by 2040, with the objectives for cutting emissions and carbon output all based on scientific facts. By lowering fuel consumption of company vehicles and refrigeration-related emissions – as well as cutting the consumption of natural gas and electricity – Sobeys is on the path to practices that demonstrate no global warming potential (GWP).
We pride ourselves on being good stewards of the environment – and the Sobeys Climate Action Plan is our roadmap.
Improving energy efficiency in stores and distribution centres – including transitioning to renewable energy, such as solar rooftops – are objectives that will further help decarbonize Sobeys operations. And we welcome the support of our suppliers! We are constantly encouraging our partners to follow suit and set similar, achievable targets for themselves, so we can all do OurPart together.
Making it easier to live plastic-free
Sobeys has always been a leader when it comes to single-use plastic-waste reduction, our goals aligned with the Canadian government’s Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste. As well, we have an on-going commitment with our suppliers, manufacturers, processors and composters to find alternative forms of packaging.
Sobeys has committed to reduce plastic waste and store packaging, to promote reusing materials within a more circular economy, and to support innovation in plastic reduction. Our Plastic Action Committee was developed to champion all these goals and deliver tangible results, focusing on things like phasing out black plastics, recycling the packaging of our own brands, redesigning our packaging to reduce the amount of paper used, and even looking at new ways to address plastics and packaging in our pharmacies.
Finding ways to eliminate food waste
When it comes to food waste, Sobeys is Canada’s number-one food-rescue partner. With more than half the food produced in Canada going to waste, and with so many Canadians dealing with issues of food security, our steps to tackling surplus food have become even more important. To date, we have donated more than 23 million pounds of surplus food to charities across Canada. And in 2023, Sobeys amassed a 32% reduction in food waste in our stores – well on the way to the 50% goal we have set for 2025.
The strategy for food-waste reduction is threefold: to prevent food waste from occurring in our stores and throughout our supply chain, to redistribute as much leftover food as possible, and to find different ways of dealing with waste, as opposed to landfill. This prevention program has many sub-layers, which take into account: staff training, fresh-item management systems, computer-automated ordering, and new and more efficient reduction policies.
Almost 100% of Own Brand fresh and frozen seafood is sustainably sourced.
We are also working hard with Second Harvest to build even more awareness about food waste. Sobeys is happy to report that we were recently recognized as Second Harvest’s Partner of the Year in 2022 for donating 15 million pounds of surplus food.
It’s no surprise that our customers are also pitching in and we encourage them to reduce, reuse, recycle and rescue at every opportunity. Our partnership with the FoodHero app helps us offer surplus food at sale prices, so more people can take advantage of the discount and divert more food into their kitchens and away from landfill.
Minding our own footprint
When it comes to looking for new ways to reduce our energy consumption, we pride ourselves on being good stewards of the environment. And in our ongoing partnership with Earth Day Canada, Sobeys has donated $14 million to support environmental initiatives over the past 15 years.
The Sobeys Climate Action Plan is our roadmap, filled with ideas for energy management and energy sustainably – inside and outside our stores – and advocating for technologies and solutions that generate success. Monitoring our energy across the board, we have been busy installing CO2 refrigeration systems, using refrigerants with lower GWP, investing in installing smart technology in our delivery vehicles and looking at ways we can upgrade lighting, motor systems and HVAC systems in our buildings. Even using water more responsibly helps us get just a little closer to our goals. And as many hands make for light work, we have been encouraging our staff to drive change within the store, giving them as much sustainable know-how as possible.
Thinking alike with other great minds!
Because our customers demand more ethical and sustainable products, we are continually partnering with suppliers that share our sustainability outlook. And the deeper we dig into the workings of our supply chain, the more we find new ways to make progress and empower our suppliers with clear policies and expectations.
Sobeys will soon launch a Human Rights Due Diligence Program that focuses on human rights within our supply chain and introduces ethical sourcing into our processes, particularly in the areas of child and forced labour. New plans are shaping up with regard to updating and measuring our commitments to better animal welfare. Developments are also championing fair trade for banana suppliers, with Sobeys supporting our growers’ communities by establishing minimum-pricing policies. And our new Seafood Metrics initiative helps our partners source more sustainable seafood. Amazingly, almost 100% of Own Brand fresh and frozen seafood is sustainably sourced.
Staying the course for a better world
Developed in 2022, the Sobeys environmental policy is holding firm, helping us address climate change, energy management, food waste, plastics and packaging, and ethical and sustainable sourcing. It’s a list of objectives with a multifaceted scope – and Sobeys is in it for the long haul.
By looking after the health of our environment and keeping a watchful eye on the impact our operations have on the communities we serve, we can effect the changes necessary to help make the world more sustainable. Isn’t it amazing what we can do when we all work together?
You can read the full 2023 Sustainability Business Report here.