Publix Drives Efforts in Ocean and Environmental Care

commercial fisher deploying on demand gear

Publix’s partnership with SFP helps address bycatch issues in global fisheries. (Photo Credit: Sustainable Fisheries Partnership)

by | Jun 10, 2024

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Commitment to Ocean Conservation and Beyond

As one of the largest employee-owned companies in the U.S., Publix actively encourages its workforce of over 255,000 to volunteer and engage in their local communities, while consistently demonstrating its dedication to sustainability through various initiatives, including substantial contributions to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), a marine conservation nonprofit.

Over the past 14 years, the company has supported initiatives to protect ocean wildlife and promote responsible fishing practices. On World Oceans Day, Publix highlighted its ongoing efforts in collaboration with SFP and various seafood supplier partners.

Guy Pizzuti, Publix’s Business Development Director of Seafood, shared, “Publix is committed to taking meaningful steps alongside our supplier partners to drive the responsible harvesting of seafood. We are thankful for this important collaboration with SFP and our supplier partners, and we are proud of the work we’re doing together to advance these efforts.”

In the past year alone, Publix donated $130,000 to support various fishery improvement projects. These funds facilitate access to updated fishing gear and disseminate best practice information to commercial fishers. Notably, the CanFISH Gear Lending Program in Nova Scotia offers ropeless fishing equipment to reduce whale entanglements, and SFP’s Bycatch Solutions Hub connects fishers with experts to mitigate bycatch, the accidental capture of non-target wildlife. Additionally, Publix backs the Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab fishery improvement project, which tests technologies to minimize harmful interactions with endangered North Atlantic right whales.

Publix’s annual donations also support SFP’s global initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of fishing and fish farming, with efforts to address bycatch issues in mahi fisheries in Costa Rica and Panama. Bycatch, the accidental capture of non-target wildlife, such as whales, sea turtles, and seabirds, poses significant challenges to sustainable fishing practices.

Kathryn Novak, SFP’s Biodiversity and Nature Director, praised Publix for its nearly 15-year investment in solutions that benefit both the environment and local fishing communities, saying, “Publix’s support has helped fishers through difficult transitions necessary to reduce impacts on vulnerable marine wildlife.”

Expanding its commitment to marine conservation, Publix became the first company to fund Force Blue’s Quick Reaction Force in 2023. This team aids Florida’s marine science community and environmental agencies in responding swiftly to marine emergencies, leveraging the expertise of retrained Special Operations military veterans and combat divers.

Energy, Waste and Water Conservation

Publix’s dedication to sustainability extends beyond seafood. The company has donated over 100 million pounds of produce to food banks across the southeastern U.S. and continues to be recognized as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, a title it has held for 27 years.

In its ongoing quest for environmental stewardship, Publix has made significant strides in energy efficiency and waste reduction. The company diverted over 49 million pounds of food waste by-products in 2023 alone, repurposing materials from its dairy and bakery plants into animal feed. Publix has also committed to reducing energy consumption, achieving a 25.7% reduction in electricity usage in retail operations from 2002 to 2023, equivalent to powering 351,269 homes for a year.

Store innovations include the widespread adoption of LED lighting and motion sensors, saving significant energy across refrigerated door cases and walk-in freezers. Publix’s plastic bag recycling program aims to ensure that customer-recycled bags are processed responsibly, turning them into new products like composite decking and benches.

Water conservation is another pillar of Publix’s sustainability strategy, with ongoing experimentation on new ideas to improve being tested at some stores, including one at its Lakeland refrigerated warehouse that collects rainwater and condensation runoff to cool its refrigeration condensers. The company’s irrigation practices prioritize reclaimed or well water and use advanced sensors to optimize water usage in landscaping.

Publix’s recycling efforts date back to the 1970s and have grown substantially. In 2023, the company recycled nearly 598 million pounds of cardboard, over 25 million pounds of mixed plastics, and more than 10.5 million pounds of mixed paper.

The company has been recognized as a Recycling Champion by the Florida Recycling Partnership Foundation and was lauded by the American Chemistry Council back in 2015 for its innovative on-site plastic recycling baler technology designed to produce large and dense clean plastic bales for ease of recycling.

Publix’s commitment to sustainability and community support is evident through its broad range of environmental initiatives and partnerships with consistent efforts to safeguard marine life and drive meaningful progress in conservation.

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