Navigating a Green Horizon

Navigating a Green Horizon

In an era where environmental consciousness is increasingly becoming a priority, businesses across various sectors actively adopt sustainability to reduce their ecological footprint.

The convenience and gas channel, traditionally associated with quick transactions and on-the-go essentials, is no exception. The industry has undergone a notable shift toward sustainability in recent years, with various initiatives actively working to minimize environmental impact and foster a greener future.

Renewable Energy

One significant aspect of sustainability is the adoption of renewable energy sources. Forward-thinking businesses are incorporating solar panels to harness the sun’s power, providing a clean, renewable energy alternative. This reduces reliance on traditional energy grids and demonstrates a commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

Recognizing the importance of environmental responsibility and responding to customer and business values, Rabba aims to contribute to a more sustainable and healthy business by harnessing the power of solar energy. They collaborated with Green Integrations and Star Energy Solutions to develop a solar generation system for its Mississauga distribution facilities, as part of its sustainability efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of its grocery network.

“We have been working with both Green Integrations and Star Energy Solutions for many years and have a long history of executing energy-saving and emission-reducing projects with each of them,” says Rima Rabba, head of marketing at Rabba Fine Foods. This includes various retrofits, upgrades, and multiple energy savings initiatives at its distribution and store network.

“Rabba’s distribution facilities are large consumers of electricity with extensive refrigeration and frozen operations distributing items such as ice cream and fresh produce,” says Rabba. “We appreciate how solar energy allows us to insulate our daily operations from future fluctuations in energy prices or grid reliability issues.”

Despite high initial upfront costs, Rabba was able to leverage tax incentives to help offset the cost.

“Our levelized cost of electricity for solar power is approximately $0.55/kWh, meanwhile, we currently pay about $0.14/kWh all-in for grid-supplied electricity,” says Rabba, who remains committed to operating in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

In terms of return on investment, Rabba actively pursues long-term energy savings, demonstrating a commitment that spans over 20 years.

Rabba’s initiatives serve as an example of how businesses can future-proof themselves with renewable energy. Retailers looking to embrace sustainability should consider conducting environmental impact assessments, engaging with renewable energy experts, and exploring partnerships with organizations experienced in sustainable solutions. Additionally, understanding customer values and market trends can guide the development of effective sustainability strategies.

Parkland Corporation, the Canadian-headquartered international retail giant of fuel, food, and convenience stores, is thoughtfully advancing its sustainability strategy. With approximately 4,000 retail and commercial locations across Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean region, Parkland harnesses the power of the sun. The company has installed solar panels on the roofs of 54 retail sites across nine countries, with the highest concentration in Puerto Rico, boasting 30 sites.

Simon Scott, director of communications at Parkland Corporation, states, “Solar panels provide a portion of the energy needs at most of these sites, while the grid supplies the remainder. Each site ranges in size from 30kW to 100kW, resulting in an estimated 2.5-3.0MW of production to date. We anticipate expanding this capacity to 8-10MW in the coming months.”

Boy recycling plastic bottle in a home container

Biofuels and Electric Charging Stations

As the world seeks alternatives to traditional fossil fuels, convenience and gas retailers are exploring biofuels as a cleaner option. Biofuels, derived from organic materials, emit fewer greenhouse gases compared to conventional fuels and provide consumers with a greener choice at the pump.

Furthermore, the integration of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations is gaining momentum. As electric vehicles become more prevalent, convenience stores and gas stations are adapting to accommodate this shift in consumer preferences. Installing EV charging stations not only supports sustainable transportation but also positions these establishments as hubs for eco-conscious consumers.

Parkland is a leader in low-carbon fuel production and the company strives to provide its customers with choices that help them lower their environmental impacts. Using a technique called co-processing, Parkland’s Burnaby refinery produces over 90 per cent of the renewable fuel that’s produced in Canada.

As described in the company’s Powering Journeys podcast, episode 7: All About Co-Processing, crude oil is taken to their refinery and turned into different fuels like gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuel. Co-processing is a process by which renewable feedstocks, such as waste vegetable oils or waste animal fats are mixed in with crude oil, and processed at their refinery to make renewable fuels. Biofuels, like ethanol and biodiesel, are blended with finished fuels, like gasoline and diesel, to lower the carbon intensity. That fuel is used in airplanes, ferries, boats, and regular cars and trucks without the need for any mechanical modifications. This is an environmentally conscious, cost-effective solution to help lower carbon emissions for parts of the economy which are difficult to electrify, as well as for consumers for whom EVs are currently impractical or unaffordable.

Parkland also operates the largest EV charging network in British Columbia, with 50 ultrafast charging locations.

Waste Reduction and Recycling Programs

The convenience and gas channel is actively working to reduce waste. Establishments are implementing recycling programs, offering designated bins for various recyclable materials such as plastic, glass, and paper. Some retailers have gone a step further by minimizing the use of disposable packaging and encouraging customers to bring reusable bags.

In 2020, the City of Lethbridge implemented a mandatory recycling and organics bylaw for all residents and businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the postponement of implementing this bylaw until early 2023, providing a grace period for full compliance by fall 2023.

“We collaborated with Waste Connections, our waste contractor, to position recycle bins alongside our existing garbage bins and also supplied us with 64-gallon totes on wheels for organics,” says Brent Morris, president of Gas King Oil Co. Ltd., who implemented their recycling and organics program at Gas King locations in Lethbridge in spring 2023. “We applied decals to all of our waste, recycle, and organic receptacles so that our employees and customers knew which receptacle to use. It took a few months to determine the frequency of our recycle and organic pickups, but Waste Connection has been great to work with, and everything now operates smoothly. Over time, our staff adapted and incorporated the habit of organizing and placing their waste in the correct container, becoming a part of their daily routine.”

Beyond Parkland’s transportation side of the business, the company also applies sustainability efforts to its foodservice and loyalty programs as well. “We offer our retail customers the choice to redeem their loyalty rewards points in the form of carbon credits to help offset the impact of their travel,” says Scott.

The company serves its new Bistro coffee in cups made from bamboo, a fast-growing and highly renewable resource that enables harvesting without causing harm to the plant. Unlike traditional disposable cups made from plastic or foam, bamboo cups decompose more easily in composting environments, contributing to a reduced environmental impact.

Ongoing Innovation

The journey toward sustainability in the convenience and gas channel is dynamic and ongoing. Industry leaders are recognizing the importance of continuous innovation to address new challenges and opportunities. From renewable energy adoption to waste reduction initiatives, businesses in the convenience and gas sector are committed to navigating the green horizon and contributing to a more sustainable future.

Meline Beach is a Toronto-based communications practitioner and frequent contributor to Convenience and Carwash Canada. In addition to freelance writing, Meline provides communications and public relations support to businesses across Canada. She can be reached at

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