Delhaize Grocery Group Sizes Up Global Carbon Footprint for the First Time

Delhaize Grocery Group Sizes Up Global Carbon Footprint for the First Time

The Delhaize Group, the Belgium-based international grocery chain that operates Food Lion and Hannaford supermarkets in the U.S., is disclosing its global carbon footprint and developing further plans to lighten its impact on the environment.

With 2,673 groceries in the U.S., Belgium, Greece, Romania and Indonesia, the Delhaize Group has pegged its CO2e emissions at 2.7 million tonnes, or .59 tonnes per square meter of sales area, for 2008, the firm said in its latest corporate responsibility report.
Images courtesy of The Delhaize Group.
The range of emissions per square meter of sales area for similar international retailers is .21 tonnes CO2 per square meter to .64 tonnes per square meter according to the report.

(For example, leading U.K. retailer Tesco with roughly 2,700 stores globally in 2007 said the carbon footprint for the Tesco Group that year was 4.47 million tonnes of CO2e.)
Images courtesy of The Delhaize Group.
The assessment for Delhaize, conducted by Environmental Resources Management, and its disclosure fulfill a promise made in the company's initial CR report, which was issued in 2008 and covered corporate responsibility efforts in 2007.

The group's stores accounted for almost 86 percent of emissions with transportation a far distant second at 8 percent; distribution centers, 5.6 percent and offices a mere .5 percent.

In terms of source, 63.6 percent of the emissions resulted from use of electricity, followed by refrigerants at 25 percent.; natural gas, 2.6 percent, propane, .6 percent and light fuel at .2 percent.

The company said it intends to use the measurement to set further environmental goals and benchmark its progress. It already had some targets in place and its 2008 CR report, released last week, provided snapshots of efforts thus far.

Energy Efficiency

By the end of last year, almost 800 of the 1,319 Food Lion stores in the U.S. had earned Energy Star status by using at least 35 percent less energy and producing at least 35 percent less CO2 than comparable facilities. The tally made Food Lion the leading Energy Star grocery chain: More than half of the Energy Star supermarkets in the U.S. last year were Food Lion stores. Goals for 2009 include earning Energy Star status for another 100 stores by the end of 2009.

The Delhaize Group, whose energy saving strategy is anchored by a €38 million investment (almost US$ 54 million) program until 2020, also took steps to make new facilities models of green building and improve existing sites.

In the U.S., new construction included a Food Lion customer service center in North Carolina that received a LEED-Silver green building rating last year, ground-breaking last month on a new Food Lion store in South Carolina and LEED-Platinum certification conferred in July for a Hannaford supermarket in Maine.

In Belgium where the company has a goal of reducing energy consumption 35 percent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, Delhaize cut electricity use by 30 percent by installing doors on refrigeration and cold case units in a new store. Similar doors were installed at the new Hannaford, a new store in Luxembourg and in supermarkets in the Alfa-Beta and Mega Image operating companies, which are in Greece and Romania, respectively.

In a bold move to further cut energy use and emissions in facilities, Food Lion eliminated 128 servers and created 320 virtual services to yield annual savings of more than 1 million kWh of electricity and more than $ 1 million in hardware and energy costs.


The company has set a goal of zero emissions from refrigerants by 2020 is switching from use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) to ozone-friendly hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) throughout the group.

The firm notes that the strategy will be a challenge and calls for careful balance, because HFCs can be more carbon intensive even though they are kinder to the ozone than HCFCs.


The company plans to increase its use of renewable energy. In Belgium, the firm has received all its energy from a renewable energy supplier since 2007 (the company is No. 1 green energy consumer in Belgium and the ninth largest in Europe).

Solar arrays boost the company's use of renewables at four Hannaford stores in the U.S. and at two Alfa-Beta stores in Greece. The company also is making its first foray into harnessing wind power. A turbine is being designed for a Hannaford store in New York and is expected to start operations in 2011.

Waste and Recycling

Fifty-one percent of the 432,000 tonnes of waste generated by the group was recycled in 2008. The company also made incremental headway is its efforts to reduce use of plastic shopping bags. The group averaged 2.8 non-reusable plastic bags per customer transaction in 2008, down from 2.9 per transaction the previous year.

Images courtesy of The Delhaize Group.