An organization of Co-op's size can have significant impact on the environment. Recycling is a core pillar of how we operate and we have also introduced a number of industry leading innovations.
We offer members only the freshest food, so when that food is no longer at its peak, and we can’t donate it to an agency, we compost it. Every month, approximately 300 tonnes of food is taken away for composting. When done, some of this composted product makes its way back to farmers' fields.
Cardboard, plastic and paper
Serving the grocery needs for hundreds of thousands of Albertans generates a lot of cardboard and plastic. Every month we collect and sort approximately 300 tonnes of plastic, cardboard, metal and wood from all our stores, then ship it off to be properly recycled. All office paper and material is also collected and recycled.
Electronic recycling is also an important part of our program. All electronics, like computers and monitors, are carefully recycled right here in Calgary – nothing is sent offshore for dismantling or recycling.
Our rigorous recycling efforts are adding up. For example, in 2017 our cardboard, paper, plastics and organics recycling program diverted 87% of our total waste cutting landfill space by 19,500 cubic yards. That resulted in saving 11,100 barrels of oil, 14,000 tonnes of C02 emissions, 98.7 million litres of water and 63,000 trees. That’s the kind of positive impact all members can feel awesome about.
Our stores need a lot of energy for lights, refrigeration and heat so we look for every opportunity to be smarter about our energy consumption, like cogeneration. Co-op is the only grocery store in Western Canada to make use of high efficiency cogeneration CHP (combined heat and power) to provide that energy as efficiently as possible. Currently, six of our stores have CHP systems.We currently have CHP systems at six of our locations. These free standing cogen units are amazing:
1) Low emission natural gas powers a large engine that generates electricity for the store (sometimes enough to power the entire shopping mall).
2) Waste heat generated by the natural gas engine is captured and used to boil water that is in turn used to heat the store (that’s the co-generation part).
Cogen has real impact:
Lower costs – We can cut utility costs by 30% to 40%.
More efficient – Power from the grid is around 40% efficient, while our co-gen power is over 85% efficient. That means we not only use less energy, we can get far more power for less energy.
Lower emissions – The efficient use of natural gas makes co-gen for more environmentally friendly.
Cutting 700 tonnes of green house gases every year
That’s pretty smart tech! We have co-gen units in operation in 6 stores with 5 more planned. And we could be introducing tri-gen before our competitors even get started on co-gen. Tri-generation is combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) where some of the energy produced by a co-gen plant is used to create cold water for refrigeration.
Co-generating our own power is just one of the ways we are shrinking our carbon footprint.
Converting to LED lighting
Over our multiple locations we have miles of fluorescent tubes and thousands of light bulbs, so changing them to energy efficient LED is having a lot of impact. We are starting this process in stores that are undergoing renovation or upgrades. LED lighting requires up to 80% less energy and last up to 15 times longer.
Upgraded refrigeration systems
Keeping food fresh or frozen requires a lot of refrigeration. This can cause greenhouse gas emissions through the energy required to operate the systems as well as the refrigerant gases. We have upgraded all of our refrigeration units to run more energy efficiently. We have also switched to refrigerant gases which have lower global warming potential. Given our reliance on cold systems for food transportation, upgrading our refrigeration has helped reduce our carbon substantially.