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Industry companies go eco-friendly

BY Michael Johnsen

New York A highlight of green-friendly companies and what they’re doing:

Whole Foods—The chain last month ditched plastic in its Austin, Texas-area stores in favor of planet-friendly bags, giving consumers a choice between free 100-percent recycled paper bags or the purchase of either a reusable canvas bag or plastic tote. “Austin is serving as a test market for the company with steps in the direction for a companywide ban at checkout early next year,” stated Whole Foods spokeswoman Kate Lowery.

Wal-Mart—In addition to stocking environmentally friendly products in its aisles, Wal-Mart recently introduced reusable shopping bags. The bags, which will be available at all Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and discount stores, are offered at $1 each and are made of recycled polyethylene terephthalate, a woven fabric derived from recycled plastic bottles. According to Wal-Mart’s Live Better Index survey last year, 43 percent of Americans think they will be “extremely green” in the next five years. To help appeal to this growing green consumerism, Wal-Mart has introduced a store-brand compact fluorescent light bulb, which consumes less energy and tracks the adoption of CFCs state by state. Also, Wal-Mart has retooled its laundry detergent planogram to present only concentrated-liquid detergents. The changeover is currently underway in the Southern region, will extend to the North and Midwest regions by the end of next month and finish in the retailer’s East Coast locations by April 2008.

Safeway—Safeway last year converted its truck fleet to B20 biodiesel fuel—fuel that is 20 percent biodiesel made from domestically manufactured virgin soybean oil. The conversion will reduce Safeway’s carbon dioxide gas output by 3,603 metric tons — equivalent to 780 passenger cars not being driven for one year. And the grocer was awarded last year with California’s 2007 Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for Climate Change in recognition of all of the chain’s green-friendly initiatives.

Abbott Laboratories—Abbott last year received the annual Illinois Governor’s Pollution Prevention Award for outstanding environmental excellence for the sixth time in the last seven years. Abbott has been recognized for implementing pollution prevention projects at its pharmaceutical fermentation manufacturing operations in Chicago in 2006. The company also has committed to going “carbon neutral” with its U.S. auto fleet through the use of hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles, and implemented an energy policy with specific goals that include reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2011.

S.C. Johnson—Named one of the top 10 leading green companies by Forbes, the company recently instituted its Greenlist process, a classification system that evaluates the impact of thousands of raw materials on human and environmental health. By using Greenlist, S.C. Johnson eliminated 1.8 million pounds of volatile organic compounds from Windex and 4 million pounds of polyvinylidene chloride from Saran Wrap. The company licenses Greenlist royalty-free to other firms that want to use it.

Pentel—The company features a line of products under its Recycology banner, made from at least 50 percent, and up to 100 percent, of recycled content or post-consumer recycled content. The line of products includes pens, markers, pencils, lead, tape and, most recently, umbrellas.

Physicians Formula—The cosmetics company last year introduced a new organic line called Organic Wear. “It is important to note that we will be the first to introduce a 100-percent natural certified organic makeup line to the food, drug and mass channel,” said Ingrid Jackel, Physicians Formula’s chief executive officer. Organic Wear will be the first eco-certified, colored cosmetic line in the United States, she said.

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Walgreens, DHL team up to offer shipping at store kiosks

BY Drew Buono

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens has entered into an agreement with DHL to offer shipping services in almost all of its stores. The program will begin in April in Illinois and Florida and is expected to expand to more than 6,500 locations by the end of the calendar year 2008.

DHL shipping spot kiosks will be available at Walgreens photo counters and will be staffed by Walgreens employees, who will weigh, label and ship customer packages to U.S. or international destinations. Each location will offer packaging materials, in addition to complimentary DHL Express shipping envelopes and boxes. Walgreens customers will have access to all of DHL’s core services, including overnight, ground and international delivery.

“We’ve seen strong customer response to DHL in-store shipping in test markets,” said Walgreens executive vice president of marketing George Riedl. “The service addresses an important need for our time-crunched customer base. This new offering will be another powerful addition to our overall strategy of making life easier for customers.”

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Supervalu reports earnings increase despite sales drop

BY Michael Johnsen

MINNEAPOLIS Supervalu on Wednesday reported a third-quarter drop of 4.7 percent in net sales of $10.2 billion, but record net earnings of $141 million show an increase of 25 percent compared to the year-ago period.

“Our third-quarter results continue to benefit from the transformational acquisition in 2006 as we deliver the sixth straight quarter of double-digit earnings per share growth,” stated Jeff Noddle, Supervalu chairman and chief executive officer. We are pleased with our overall results, despite some headwind from softer than expected retail sales in the quarter.”

Supervalu’s third quarter of fiscal 2008 ended Dec. 1, 2007, and included 12 weeks of combined results compared to the third quarter of fiscal 2007 which included 13 weeks of acquired operations. The estimated sales impact of one less week of acquired operations in the third quarter of fiscal 2008 is approximately $500 million.

In addition, third-quarter fiscal 2008 and third-quarter fiscal 2007 results included after-tax charges for one-time acquisition-related costs of $7 million and $10 million, respectively. When adjusting for the one-time acquisition costs in both years and the one extra week in the prior year quarter, diluted earnings per share increased 23 percent, the company stated.

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