Natural Foods Merchandiser

Natural products industry business briefs

UNFI taps solar source
Raising the sustainability bar, distributor United Natural Foods dedicated a solar-power system the size of two football fields on the roof of the company's Dayville, Conn., distribution center in December. Pumping out enough electricity to power 67 average New England homes for a year, the photovoltaic array is UNFI's second solar project in three months, said Thomas Dziki, UNFI's vice president of sustainable development. The first project was a 1.19-megawatt system on the company's Rockland, Calif., distribution center. "[The Dayville array] will be the largest photovoltaic system in New England," Dziki said, explaining that the 550-kilowatt system's production will pay for the structure within seven years. "Our mission is to lead the rest of the industry into thinking of renewable energy as a viable alternative," he said, so UNFI will soon be looking at opportunities to add sustainable energy systems on its other facilities.

Ship-shape emissions
Ever wonder what value your otherwise eco-friendly products lose when you ship them to online shoppers? A new company wants to tell you—and help offset those emissions. ShipGreen, based in Arvada, Colo., works with online retailers to calculate the amount of energy used in their shipping, and funds projects that help combat climate change. Online retailers incorporate ShipGreen into their Web sites, and when shoppers check out, they can choose to click on the ShipGreen logo. ShipGreen then calculates a fee—based on the products' weights, shipping distance and mode of delivery—which will go to offsetting the carbon used. At no cost to merchants, the program charges customers about 30 cents to 50 cents per item, giving them the opportunity to take responsibility for offsetting the greenhouse gases produced in shipping their goods.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIX/number 1/p. 16

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