The independent, family-owned store in Westport, Ont. earned the first Grocery Stewardship Certification in the country.
The certification from United States-based Manomet Center for Conservation Services was developed to make the grocery sector more sustainable. The GSC program helps grocery store leadership reduce their environmental footprint through continuous improvement and employee engagement.
Kudrinko’s has recently made a lot of progress focused on energy – reducing carbon emissions, electricity consumption, food waste and storm water.
“I like to be a leader in the space of sustainability and the grocery industry in Canada,” said Neil Kudrinko, owner of Kudrinko’s Ltd. He added that he feels fortunate to be an independent operator with the ability to make the commitment to sustainability and then exercise the necessary changes.
The GSC recognition comes with having achieved a level of points towards certification. If a store is corporately-owned, the score has to reach 150 points to be eligible. Independent operators must achieve 100 points to be certified. Kudrinko’s exceeded both and scored 198 in its first attempt at certification.
In addition to environmental measures, the store scored high points for being active within its community. Kudrinko leads food education tours for local schools, is a consultant for the Two Rivers Food Hub, prints its flyers on 100 per cent recycled paper, and provided a multi-year funding commitment for visitor upgrades at Foley Mountain Conservation Area, among other initiatives.
“Kudrinko’s is a leader in the grocery sector for communicating the importance of sustainable operations to its employees and customers and for demonstrating sustainable practices at the store,” said Peter Cooke, Program Manager, Sustainable Economies Program with Manomet.
Kudrinko said achieving the certification gives him a new commitment to increase the energy savings at the store. He said earning the certification and leading the way as an independent in Canada shows the opportunity that lies ahead as an industry. “It provides a chance to show how we can make a difference, making the exception the norm,” Kudrinko said, noting he encourages other members of the industry to do the same.
Recently-installed dairy and meat cases elevate that to the next level. Not only do they add to the shopping experience for customers, but the new coolers fit into the overall merchandising scheme of the store, able to hold more product which allowed Kudrinko’s to expand selection. Kudrinko said they are 80 per cent more efficient than the old ones, which dated back to 2001. The cases include details that make a big difference such as LED lights and roller shades for at night to keep the cool air contained.
The cases may seem like a small step forward, but Kudrinko said part of the overall customer experience includes making shopping comfortable for patrons, improving enjoyment and their time spent at the store. “We hear a lot of people expressing how nice it is to see a grocery store show their commitment to community – and to the environment,” he said. “That’s important for a lot of people.”
But he said it also helps keep the store competitive. The upgrades translate into the store saving more than 40,000 kilowatt hours per year, or about 10 per cent of the overall energy consumption. “Investments like this continue to deliver competitive pricing to customers,” he said.
Now, Kudrinko is setting his sights even higher. The Township of Rideau Lakes is now accepting plastic shopping bags and skid wrap – which he said is going to allow a further reduction to the store’s waste stream.
To find out more about other ways which Kudrinko’s has shown its commitment to sustainability and the environment, please see other relevant posts, such as the store’s latest Carbon Reports.