As it shared its solid first-quarter results on Thursday, Rite Aid also released its third annual corporate sustainability report, outlining its environmental, social and governance strategy. The strategy includes four pillars — building a Thriving Planet, Thriving Business, Thriving Workplace and Thriving Community — that the company said it has made progress on in the past year.
“As a healthcare organization that aspires to support the whole health of its communities, we understand the critical need to address notable issues like climate change, product safety, energy management and health inequities,” said Trent Kruse, Rite Aid senior vice president of investor relations and treasury. “Our third annual sustainability report illustrates the progress we’ve made across critical ESG initiatives and lays out a new framework for our sustainability efforts focused around four key pillars. We are pleased with our progress, and look forward to continuing to elevate our efforts around each pillar as we carry out our RxEvolution strategy.”
Rite Aid said its Thriving Planet goal is to reduce its overall environmental impact, noting that in 2020, it worked with 3 Phases Renewables to bring in 50% renewable power for certain Southern California stores; decreased its passenger vehicle fleet by 12% — saving 300,000 gallons of fuel and reducing emissions by 2,638 metric tons; cut its overall advertising circular programs by 11 million copies per week, resulting in a 35% reduction in overall paper use compared with 2019; and diverted more than 50,000 tons of recyclables from landfills.
On the Thriving Business pillar, the company said its aim is to embed sustainability into every level of its value chain. To that end, the company worked with suppliers to improve chemical management and product safety. Within its private-brand items, Rite Aid launched more than 278 new products free of eight chemicals of high concern and reformulated more than 60 items to be free of these chemicals. Currently, only 13 of its own-brand offerings contain these chemicals, and Rite Aid said it is working on reformulating them.
Under its Thriving Workplace goal — optimizing the Rite Aid associate experience, opportunity and well-being — the company said it worked to transform its approach to diversity, equity and inclusion, hiring a vice president to develop a DEI center of excellence and DEI strategy. The drug store chain also increased professional and personal development offerings for associates, among other efforts.
Rite Aid’s Thriving Communities goal is to improve outcomes and access to care in the communities it serves, with COVID-19 constituting the focus of these efforts in 2020. The chain opened more than 1,200 COVID-19 testing sites, ultimately making it so anyone older than 4 years old could get tested regardless of symptomatic statis, and conducted thousands of community vaccine clinics for vulnerable and underserved populations. As of May 29, the company had administered more than 5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and worked to educate communities around testing, vaccination eligibility and availability, as well as vaccine safety. Beyond COVID-19, Rite Aid said it has installed more than 825 safe medication disposal kiosks in local law enforcement facilities and added 65 kiosks in its stores, for a total of 165 units across its footprint, with plans to expand in additional west coast stores in 2021.
To read the full report, click here.