Maine DEP Helps Grocers Reduce Environmental Impact, Grow Bottom Line Through Green Certification Program

November 9, 2011

CONTACT:
Samantha DePoy-Warren, Maine DEP Spokesperson/Director of Education & Outreach samantha.depoy-warren@maine.gov/ 287-5842

-Food City in Turner, Royal River Natural Foods in Freeport and Bathras Market in South Portland are three of a baker’s dozen grocers in Maine now recognized for reducing the impact their stores have on the environment-

AUGUSTA - Three Maine groceries are being recognized by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for their voluntary efforts to reduce the impact their stores have on the environment.

Food City in Turner, Royal River Natural Foods in Freeport and Bathras Market in South Portland were recently certified by the department as Environmental Leaders, bringing the total certified grocers in the state to 13.

The Environmental Leader program is a self-guided process offered by the department as part of its Pollution Prevention program that encourages lodging facilities, restaurants, and grocers to implement selected improvement initiatives from those offered in the department-developed workbook to achieve points towards certification. Grocers can earn points for practices such as adopting and posting an environmental policy, selling a percentage of local and/or organic foods, installing energy-efficient refrigeration equipment, having a posted anti-idle policy in delivery bays and educating patrons about the store’s green initiatives.

Businesses submit their completed workbook to DEP for review and certification approval, and must increase their point total to be recertified after two years.

As businesses work through the process, staff from the department’s Office of Assistance provide free technical assistance to help participants implement sustainable practices, save money and reduce their environmental impact, regardless of whether they end up obtaining certification.

In addition to considerable cost savings, businesses are also incentivized to participate by recognition within store signage and marketing materials and by research that shows environmental designations are attractive to customers.

“We are so proud of our Environmental Leader program because it engages businesses in DEP’s core priority of protecting our natural resources while ensuring a vibrant and sustainable economy,” said DEP Commissioner Pattie Aho. “Grocers who participate are seeing significant energy cost savings that are leading to increased profitably, allowing them to invest in infrastructure improvements and expansion of their workforce. And by selling locally-sourced food, they are also helping to grow the businesses of those local producers too. This program is yet another example of what is good for the environment being what is good for the economy.”

Food City’s Turner store has green practices including selling locally grown food; utilization of a refrigeration system with heat recovery that contributes to heating the store and its hot water; using energy-saving lighting controls and efficient LED signage; and implementation of an environmental policy and an environmental task force of employees that meets quarterly.

Royal River Natural Foods in Freeport sells only organic produce, meats and eggs often from local sources; has eliminated its sales and use of Styrofoam; recycles as part of waste management and encourages customers to use reusable bags; uses environmentally preferable cleaning products in the store and wet cleaning instead of dry for employee aprons; and donates food to Freeport Community Services and organic wastes to local farmers.

Bathras Market in South Portland sells environmental preferred products and organic and local food items including produce, meats and seafood from the Gulf of Maine; uses energy efficient LED lighting and environmentally preferred cleaning products; and has refrigeration curtains on display cases that are closed at night to conserve energy use.

“Our Environmental Leader certification recognizes that our business practices are good both for Maine’s environment and for economic success,” said Tina Wilcoxson, general manager of Royal River Natural Foods. “We encourage more Maine businesses to take advantage of Maine DEP’s free assistance and the availability of this voluntary program for sustainable business practices.”

For more information about the Environmental Leader certification program and a complete list of participants, go to http://www.maine.gov/dep and click on “Environmental Leader Green Business Certification” under the featured links or contact the Office of Assistance at 1-800-789-9802.

For more information about the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, visit http://www.maine.gov/dep/.

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