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NRF panel stresses sustainability

BY Mike Duff

NEW YORK Brenda Mathison, director of environmental affairs at Best Buy laid it out to store operators at the National Retail Federation convention, when she said that, as regards the sustainability issue, “You are not at the table, you are on the menu.”

Becoming proactive on sustainability is critical if retailers are to participate in the development of a greening commercial environment and, at the very least, be prepared for the inevitable rules and regulations emerging all over the globe, said the speakers at NRF’s Creating the “Green”: Protecting the Environment and Your Bottom Line seminar.

Mathison noted that Best Buy is developing a new green initiatives in focus stores that the company gradually will expand as it opens new units. She pointed out that Best Buy is taking a more comprehensive look at green issues. Energy efficiencies, transportation, recycling, green facilities and green products all are elements that Best Buy is incorporating into its sustainability efforts. Critically, Best Buy is building measurement into each element of its green push to provide standards, verification and, ultimately, a way to satisfy observers and its own employees that the company is committed to sustainability as a method of making it not only a better corporate citizen, but a better retailer as well.

Kevin Hagen, director of corporate social responsibility for REI, noted that the sporting good retailer has discovered, through its own sustainability initiatives a range of new opportunities that have made it a more efficient retailer. REI has looked inward as it has sought methods of becoming greener. Although charitable donations have been part of REI’s historic commitment to social responsibility, giving even several million dollars in contribution ultimately doesn’t have nearly as big an impact as spending $300 million in various investments the company has to make as it pursues it business. For that reason, the company has reviewed various practices from building to buying introducing green innovations that sometimes pay off immediately in terms of cost savings and some that will provide long-term returns as REI gets ahead of resource markets and inevitable environmental legislation and regulation.

Justin Doak, manager, LEED Retail Sector, U.S Green Building Council, noted that the group is bringing its preliminary examination of specialized practices to a close. It plans to offer LEED rules tailored specifically to retail in the fall, which not only will provide guidelines for concerned retailers but also will solidify the outlook for cities that are or will adopt LEED concepts as part of their building codes.

Additionally, Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Chicago’s Department of the Environment Commissioner, noted that her city is encouraging innovation across the board from government to retail and putting into place incentives for companies to adopt green practices. In terms of construction, that has included waving permit fees for green building projects. The results already are becoming apparent. She cited the care study of manufacturer F&F Foods, a company that conducted a green redesign project on a 150,000 square foot building. F&F spent $63,000 for an environmental audit and $722,000 for a retrofit. The result was a $296,000 cost savings annually and a pay back time of 2.65 years. The numbers suggest, as did the panelists, that green initiatives can generate returns beyond good will.

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RILA to hold conference on environmental sustainability and compliance

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. The Retail Industry Leaders Association on Monday announced its plan to hold the first-ever comprehensive retail conference devoted to issues of environmental sustainability and compliance, to be held Sept. 22 through 24 in Dallas.

“This exciting event will bring together America’s leading retailers who are committed to sustainable causes worldwide,” stated RILA president Sandy Kennedy. ”We are proud to be the first to bring the retail industry and its partners together to address an issue of great importance to both retailers and consumers.”

The event will feature representatives of all major retail segments and will include manufacturer and service supplier participants. The program will address the major operational aspects of sustainability and environmental compliance for retail, including supply chain, operations, real estate and development issues, through a series of general and breakout sessions featuring the industry’s leaders.

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Fred’s chosen as Mississippi Drug Card Program preferred pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. The Mississippi Drug Card Program selected Fred’s as the preferred pharmacy for its statewide discount prescription drug program, the Memphis Business Journal reported Tuesday. The preferred status enables state residents without Internet access to receive the program discounts simply by walking into a Fred’s pharmacy and mentioning the Mississippi Drug Card Program.

“This truly is the first program of its kind,” stated Mississippi Drug Card Program director, Lila Cedotal, in announcing the program last month. “This program can help every resident in Mississippi, even those with health coverage.”

Mississippi residents are able to redeem their prescription drug cards and receive savings of up to 75 percent at more than 50,000 national and regional pharmacies, the program states on its website www.mississippidrugcard.com, including Rite Aid, Walgreens, Winn-Dixie and K-Mart.

The Mississippi Drug Card was launched Dec. 12 to help the uninsured and under insured people of Mississippi afford their prescription medications, stated United Networks of America, which administers the program. However, the program can also be used by people who have health insurance coverage with no prescription benefits. Additionally, people who have prescription coverage can use this program for non-formulary or non-covered drugs.

The Mississippi Drug Card can also be used by those individuals who do not qualify for public funded programs and by people who receive their medicines through charity care providers.

The free prescription card is available online for everyone in Mississippi by simply going to eh Web site and printing a card. The card is also being given out by some hospitals, doctors’ offices and clinics.

United Networks of America has set up similar programs in New York, California, Texas, New Jersey, Ohio, Utah, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Arizona, Colorado and Tennessee, UNA reported.

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