Metcash has commenced the rollout of an energy saving program following a successful trial in Supa IGA and IGA supermarkets that produced 50 per cent savings from their electricity bills.

The trial in 50 supermarkets shows that electricity bills of an average Supa IGA can be cut by $39,150 a year from a capital outlay of $81,106, while an average IGA store can achieve savings of $15,812 from a capital outlay of $39,669.

“We are delighted with the results being achieved so far by the stores which have undertaken the program. We have extended the project to include initiatives to cut stores’ water consumption and to track carbon footprint,” Louise Rhodes, Metcash sustainability manager, said.

The new energy package involves an initial survey of a store by a Metcash engineer, who then provides a report and a written, binding quote to complete energy efficiency works in store to generate savings on their energy bills.

According to Rhodes, refrigeration and lighting are the main areas of energy consumption for its supermarkets.

“Many stores are upgrading to Co2 refrigeration, using timers at night, installing doors, domes, night blinds on open fridges and freezers. Double glazing, LED lighting and smart controllers are all upgrades that involve capital investment, but the payback period is within five years in most cases,” she said.

The installation of solar panels and water tanks is also being undertaken by supermarkets, coupled with the installation of water efficient taps and appliances. The supermarkets are also compositing their food waste on or off-site, recycling plastic materials to cut waste and are sending excess packaging back to their suppliers.

Metcash plans to also concentrate on removing non-plantation timber products and refrigeration with HFC’s (hydro-fluoro-carbons) from its own business.

The new services comes at a time when electricity, water and waste costs have increased by around 40 per cent, while legislation benchmarking maximum energy consumption will impact on larger stores.

This project is expected to save the participating stores $226,911 annually or  $1,334 per store, with carbon emissions abatement of 4018 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or 23.6 tonnes per store.