GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With nearly 250 stores across six states, Meijer has the potential to have a big impact on our environment and community. 

“Our mission at Meijer is to enrich lives in the communities that we serve. Environmental sustainability is a key part of that mission,” said Erik Petrovskis, the company’s director of environmental compliance and sustainability. 

Meijer was one of six organizations nominated for the 2022 Sustainable Businesses of the Year by the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.

“To be recognized by the Sustainable Business Forum by our peers was very meaningful,” Petrovskis said.

He added that Meijer’s sustainability program is made up of four pillars: reduce carbon emissions, reduce food waste, support the circular economy and serve as stewards of the Great Lakes. The forum highlighted several initiatives, including a big goal to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2025.

“It’s an industry-leading and Michigan-leading initiative and one that we know that we need to execute to be a great member of the community. That 50% reduction is what the science tells us we need to do by 2030 to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change,” Petrovskis explained. 

In the U.S., food waste is estimated at between 30-40% of the food supply. Petrovskis said Meijer is working hard to reduce those numbers.

“Food waste is an important issue for our customers, and it’s important to us, so we manage food waste first by reducing food waste at the source. We have better inventory and ordering procedures now to minimize the amount of food waste we generate. We also have each store aligned with a local food bank,” he said.

Meijer also offers steep discounts on food close to the sell-by date through an app called Flashfood. Other leftover food is sent off to be used as animal feed or compost.

Another key focus is the Great Lakes, which are polluted with more than 22 million pounds of plastic every year. 

“The Great Lakes are so important to us for economic vitality, for biodiversity and recreation,” Petrovskis said. “We want to do our part to clean up those beaches and marinas.”

Those efforts include installing green infrastructure to improve the stormwater discharge from stores in Traverse City and Benton Harbor, as well as gutter bins that help collect the trash out of parking lot catch basins.

Last August, Meijer also debuted remote-controlled robots called Bebot and Pixie drones to help clean up the trash on beaches and in marinas. The company also boasts the industry’s lowest refrigerant emissions and the highest percentage of stores with EV charging stations. 

Through its efforts, Petrovskis said they hope to inspire people in the community to live greener lifestyles as well. Last year, the company recycled more than 6 million pounds of plastic by providing plastic bag recycling bins for customers. In addition, Meijer offers thousands of clean and sustainable products as well as tips on how to help live more sustainably