Walgreens Boots Alliance Is Going Greener With Energy Efficiency Tech

by | Mar 3, 2023

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Walgreens Boots Alliance owns the pharmacies Walgreens and Boots — one American and one British, although headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois. The company was formed in 2014 after U.S.-based Walgreens purchased the remaining stake in UK-based Boots. The combined company, with sales of $132 billion in 2022, operates in nine countries. Besides selling pharmaceutical drugs, both businesses sell retail goods as well.

The combined company is eco-conscious — a mission derived because it is a health-related enterprise that is driven to improve the human condition and planet. 

“We aim to protect our planet in ways that are both environmentally conscious and socially equitable. In the past fiscal year, our total carbon emissions have decreased by 8 percent from 2021, ensuring we are on track to reduce our total emissions by 30 percent by 2030 with the base year of 2019,” the company says. 

It adds that Boots UKs online deliveries are 100% plastics-free, and it is on track to reduce its food waste by 50%. It diverts 54 metric tonnes of plastic waste from landfill.  Boots UK aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2040.

As of 2022, the company has also:

— cut carbon emissions by 21.2% from a 2019 baseline.

— 700 stories in the UK offer to recycle.

— 100% of Boots stores powered by certified renewable energy in the Republic of Ireland.

— Nearly 30 million plastic bags have been removed through Boots UK plastic-free deliveries since 2018.

— 3.5 million miles reduction in fleet efficiency at Boots UK via supply chain routing program.

— 99% of waste is diverted from landfill from Walgreens Distribution Centers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

“At WBA, we believe there is an inextricable link between the health of our planet and the health of our communities, whether impacted by extreme temperatures, natural disasters, airborne diseases or poor air quality. We also believe climate change is caused by human activities and requires swift action to reduce our footprint,” the company says.

The goal is to cut its Scopes 1 and 2 emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to 2019. As of the end of fiscal 2022, the company has achieved a carbon emissions reduction of 21.2 percent. It plans to hit its target using energy efficiency. With 9,000 retail pharmacy locations in the United States and Puerto Rico, it will invest in the energy management systems of the future. 

During 2022, Walgreens set up eight micro-fulfillment centers using high-efficiency technologies such as HVAC rooftop units and advanced lighting controls. Meantime, Boots UK is also using energy efficiency programs and plans to eliminate natural gas use in new locations.

Boots aim to be net zero by 2040. Most of the companys — including Walgreens — Scope 1 emissions from operations and Scope 2 emissions from purchased electricity, heat, and steam come from using light and heat. It also reports business travel, downstream transportation, and distribution categories from Scope 3 emissions tied to its supply chain.

To minimize emissions, it uses LED lighting and has a roadmap to implement refrigerants. The company also wants to power its operations through certified renewable wind, solar, or hydro energy.

In fiscal 2022, WBAs total carbon footprint based on our stated scope was 1.6 million metric tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent), down 21.2 percent from our baseline year of fiscal 2019, mainly due to energy efficiency projects across the company and increased proportions of energy from renewable sources in the power grids from which we purchase,” it says.

In 2022, 87% were energy emissions, primarily from electricity (89%) and natural gas (9%.)

“During fiscal 2022, 6.6 percent of electricity consumed across WBA was from renewable sources. In the Republic of Ireland, 100 percent of our Boots stores are powered by certified renewable energy. In the UK, 98 percent of our stores are certified renewable. At Walgreens, we are evaluating our renewable energy strategy to identify the process that allows the business to have the biggest impact across our operational footprint, including locations under lease agreements,” it says.

The company is exploring alternatively-fueled vehicles. In the UK, it already uses 68 electric or hybrid models. For customers, Walgreens currently offers 483 electric vehicle charging stations across 397 stores.

Waste management is also essential to Walgreens and Boots, including recycling, composting, reusing materials, and measuring global waste. In 2020, Boots UK created a packaging program to recycle health and beauty items.

Across all of its businesses, the company sent 241,034 metric tonnes of waste to landfill or incineration in fiscal 2022, a decrease of 22% from 2019. It recycled or reused 613,251 metric tonnes of materials in 2022, up 66% from 2019.

And the supply chain

If you buy something, youve bought the risk that comes with it,” explains Tanya Ashton, Head of Sustainability – Global Sourcing Europe, at Walgreens Boots Alliance. She says that it is important to understand the ESG risks inherent in your supply chain, such as how your suppliers are sourcing their materials and whether theyre using unsustainable inputs like Palm Oil.”

Her comments were in the Industrial Transformation Networkdigital publication.

It reports that during the Data-Driven Sustainability & ESG online event, she shared that her company uses an online platform to collect data from its suppliers. It then scores and benchmarks those businesses. The system can provide information such as whether those companies have plans to reduce their emissions or chemicals. Walgreen Boots publishes its findings in an annual sustainability report, giving each supplier a grade — somewhat that Ms. Ashton calls a race to the top.”

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