Kroger talks up green efforts

Officials from the Kroger Co. were the featured speakers for a crowded room at the monthly Ag Breakfast
Forum held Thursday at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation.
A standing room only group heard how the company continues in a variety of ways to achieve good
stewardship of resources and limiting waste.
Mike Thiel, food safety manager, The Kroger Co., spoke on the sustainability strategy for one of the
nation’s largest grocery chains at the monthly Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum. He was
accompanied by Marne Fuller, retail operations, The Kroger Co.. She focuses on overall management of
waste removal.
Thiel is also president of the Ohio Association for Food Protection and a member of both the Ohio and
National Environmental Health Associations.
Thiel explained there is a large emphasis on food safety, including a new program called "Fast
Alerts" which tells the staff automatically when temperatures in storage cases fall outside of the
acceptable range. The electronic equipment records temperatures of the storage units, minimizing the
paper trails previously required to track temperatures.
He says the company is also being proactive in more efficient use of trailers in transporting products.
Thus, they do not need to send two trucks with similar or neighboring routes, of the loads can be
combined into one load.
Thiel noted an average Kroger store receives 14 semi loads of merchandise each week.
"Our goal is to reduce waste by combining loads as well as reducing electricity and working towards
zero waste," Thiel said.
Fuller says she is affectionately known as Kroger’s "trash lady."
Fuller explained how food and other waste going to the landfill is minimized. She explained donations to
the poor through agencies or food pantries, as well as composting and recycling.
"The last thing we want to do is to take items to the landfill," Fuller uttered.
Some of the composted material is converted into Green Envy mulch. The mulch, which is sold at Kroger’s,
is 100-percent Kroger mulch products.
Fuller said we are "one step closer to zero waste" and continue to strive toward that end.
Thiel closed the program explaining how different foods have different shelf life and that often items,
especially meats may be frozen prior to their expiration and then donated to various sources to be
safely used.
He also noted the emphasis placed on their associate’s safety as well as Kroger’s desire to meet the
demands of consumers who desire cage-free eggs and non-GMO (genetically modified) products.
He also spoke about a dairy that uses a modern closed loop system, converting the manure lagoon gasses
into fuel.
"We are always striving to reduce our carbon footprint," Thiel stated.