This article was written by Jessica Lyons Hardcastle and originally published by Environmental Leader on October 28, 2016. See the original article here.

Hannaford Supermarkets saved more than $23 million annually, or $125,000 per store, last year through its environmental sustainability efforts, according to Manomet, the nonprofit that manages the Grocery Stewardship Certification program.

Hannaford is the first food retail chain nationally to use the Grocery Stewardship Certification to benchmark its annual sustainability progress. The program has now enrolled nearly 700 stores and more than a dozen retailers.

“With its large footprint and usage of resources, the grocery sector is one of the most critical sectors to engage in the effort to reduce the effects of climate change,” Manomet’s Danielle Sarmir told Environmental Leader. “Grocery chains across the country have an immensely hard time managing for sustainability. The GSC helps food retailers by providing them with consistency and accountability at the store-level for their sustainability practices, as well as recommending best practices going forward.”

At Hannaford, these practices include:

  • The Hannaford Zero Waste program. Developed by Hannaford, it encourages employee engagement and accountability through internal competition between stores and districts.
  • Installing LEDs throughout the stores and putting doors on dairy coolers.
  • Transitioning to low-flow pre-rinse spray valves in many stores.
  • Implementing more consistency with daily operational sustainability tasks like pulling down nightshades in the produce section.

This and other “little stuff,” Sarmir says, “has big energy efficiency pay-backs and costs nothing.”

As a result of these and other operating practices, Hannaford is annually saving 78,000 tons of waste from going to landfills and nearly 97 million gallons of water from being used. It also prevents more than 261,000 tons of greenhouse gases from being released.

The total value of these sustainability practices in 2015 includes an additional $5.4 million in savings from newly measurable practices that were not quantified by the GSC in 2014, Manomet says.

“The Grocery Stewardship Certification program provides Hannaford with tools to quantify and benchmark how our stores are saving energy, reducing waste and cutting greenhouse-gas emissions,” said George Parmenter, manager of sustainability for Hannaford in a statement. “We work hard to implement a comprehensive sustainability program in each of our stores and at our corporate headquarters, so that we can minimize our environmental impact. The GSC helps us to do that.”