The high cost of noncompliance for food retailers

on September 28, 2016 Certified Grocers, GreenChill, waste management, WasteWise and Tags: , , with 0 comments

Retail facility managers face many challenges in their work. They must utilize their resources efficiently while spending the least amount of money, all with fewer and fewer resources. As they struggle to balance an increasing amount of priorities, failing to keep up and remain compliant with the expanding number of environmental regulations can be a very costly mistake.

The list of environmental measures that food retailers need to be compliant with is long, ranging from hazardous waste management to storm water runoff to equipment maintenance and more. After assessing nearly 700 grocery stores through the Grocery Stewardship Certification, we’ve found that there are opportunities for better compliance standards and more employee training in almost every store we’ve visited.  A very common occurrence for GSC staff is that a store Manager is absolutely positive that there is nothing that might be considered hazardous or out of compliance on site, when something (think spent fluorescent tubes in the compressor room or above a walk in, can of pesticide with a broken nozzle in the trash, clogged storm drain, etc) is found.   Typically, the reason is that some of these issues are so commonplace that they fail to resonate with employees until they learn about the potential impacts from a sustainability walk through.

When something like this happens, the GSC team tells employees how to rectify the issue (e.g.  notify corporate for leaks and spills, speak to lighting vendor for bulb issues, or call someone from facilities for storm drain issues) and come back into compliance.   See our recent The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Regulated Waste for more details.

The Grocery Stewardship Certification program trains store-level employees to recognize potential instances of noncompliance and encourages the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to address how to remediate issues.

Additionally, the EPA runs a number of programs that assist retailers with staying compliant and up-to-date with new regulations including the GreenChill program (refrigeration); the WasteWise program (industrial waste); SmartWay program (freight transportation) and the SaferChoice program (chemical management).

MoneyFines recently assessed to food retailers for things like hazardous waste violations or violations on refrigeration equipment have totaled in the millions of dollars.  These numbers don’t include the time spent developing new internal procedures to ensure better compliance in the future; cost of any new equipment and any potential sales decline from negative press.  The final costs of noncompliance can be far greater than the fines assessed.

Saving money through focusing on energy efficiency and better operating procedures is smart management.  But, all of those potential savings can be wiped out in an instant if you’re not ensuring that you are compliant with all regulations.

As a responsible retailer, can you answer the following questions in the affirmative?

  • If your organization doesn’t have a dedicated regulatory compliance officer to ensure compliance on all fronts, is there someone who is ultimately responsible for compliance at each store?
  • Do store-level employees know how to identify items that may be considered hazardous waste?
  • Do store-level employees know what procedures to follow if something might be out of compliance (e.g. chemical product that is damaged or returned, light bulbs, storm drains in the parking lot)? ?
  • Does each store have a designated regulated waste collection site, with bins and labels of what is being stored for proper disposal and labels and the collection start date ?

Contact the GSC team to learn more about how the Grocery Stewardship Certification program can help your food retail business ensure compliance with environmental regulations.