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The ESG Report: Empire, Fortis, Sleep Country Canada

Supermarket and real estate conglomerate Empire Company, energy utility Fortis and mattress retai...

Empire logo

Empire Company, owner of Sobeys, gave an update on its net-zero ambitions.

Supermarket and real estate conglomerate Empire Company, energy utility Fortis and mattress retailer Sleep Country Canada announced their latest ESG commitments with a focus on their net-zero goals.


The owner of Canadian supermarket Sobeys, Empire Company is a Stellarton, N.S.-headquartered conglomerate. Among its other subsidiaries are Crombie REIT, Safeway, Longo’s and FreshCo.

Report highlights: A 22 per cent reduction in food waste in its stores, which brings Empire closer to its target of achieving 50 per cent reduction in food waste by 2025. Diverted over 31 million pounds of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from over 9.6 million pounds of food surplus being donated. Made a 9.1 per cent increase in representation of women at the senior leadership level in fiscal 2022.

Emissions goal: Reduce absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions by a minimum of 55 per cent by 2030 from a 2019 base year. Sixty-two per cent of its suppliers (by spend) will set science-based reduction targets on their Scope 1 and 2 emissions within five years, and commit to a minimum 28 per cent reduction in emissions from fuel sold by 2030.

Achieve net-zero by 2040 for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, and net-zero for Scope 3 emissions by 2050 according to the Science Based Targets initiative’s (SBTi’s) Net-Zero Standard.

Scope 1 and 2: Emitted 411,362 tonnes of Scope 1 carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) and 262,956 tonnes of Scope 2 CO2e. Made a 3.7 per cent decrease in Scope 1 emissions and 26.3 per cent decrease in Scope 2 emissions from 2019.

Scope 3: Emitted 25,782,665 tonnes of Scope 3 CO2e in 2021. Made a 10.3 per cent increase in Scope 3 emissions from 2019.

Total emissions have increased 9.5 per cent from 2019. The company did not explain the increase, though the vast majority of the company’s emissions are in Scope 3, which increased from 2019 to 2021.

Certifications: Pursuing Renewable Energy Certificates to reduce Scope 2 emissions. Achieved the WELL Health-Safety certification program.

Third-party verifiers: Will enlist the support of unnamed third-party verifiers to identify potential acute and chronic climate-related risks and assess their business impacts against different climate scenarios and future time horizons. Will also aim to identify potential opportunities, including resource efficiency and improved resilience, in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

DEI plans: Address barriers that reinforce anti-Black racism and systemic racism overall. Partner with Black and Indigenous communities and other marginalized groups to build solutions that address social issues, such as access to healthy and affordable food and child and youth mental health. DE&I measures will be embedded into performance metrics, and progress will be monitored through reports to ensure outcomes are achieved.

ESG strategy: Energy efficiency for its real estate assets including warehouses, corporate stores and offices to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Adopting bioelectric and electric vehicles for its fleet. Aim for a minimum of 62 per cent of suppliers (by spend) setting science-based targets on their Scope 1 and 2 emissions by the end of calendar year 2027. Will work “closely” with its supplier partners and other external organizations to help them align and integrate with its Scope 3 emissions reduction plan.

Read the full report here.


Fortis is a St. John’s, N.L.-based gas and electric utility industry with operations in Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean. It reports owning $60 billion in total assets and has 9,100 employees.

Report highlights: Achieved 20 per cent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction since 2019, an approximate 2.6 million tonne CO2e reduction. Its renewable electricity generation capacity increased by approximately 50 per cent in 2021 compared to 2020 and natural gas energy savings have doubled since 2017, saving more than 630 terajoules of natural gas over the period.

Emissions goal: Reduce direct GHG emissions 50 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2035. Net-zero by 2050.

Scope 1 and 2: Emitted 9,742 kilotonnes (ktonnes) of CO2e in 2021 and 158 ktonnes of CO2e in Scope 2 emissions in 2021.

Scope 3: Emitted 98,086 ktonnes of CO2e in 2021, compared to 103,673 ktonnes of CO2e in 2020.

Certifications: Silver Certification for the Investors in People Framework.

Third-party verifiers: Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, Task Force for Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, Edison Electric Institute ESG/sustainability reporting template and Global Reporting Initiative Standards.

DEI plans: Educate and hold its leadership accountable for advancing racial equity. Hire, develop, promote and retain a racially diverse workforce. Find opportunities for “meaningful engagement with racially and ethnically diverse communities within our workplace and in the geographies we serve” and cooperate with Indigenous communities.

ESG strategy: A five-year capital plan for $20 billion of investment from 2022 through 2026, of which $3.8 billion is expected to be invested in cleaner energy infrastructure. Fortis amended its $1.3 billion revolving credit facility to become a sustainability linked loan, which includes pricing adjustments connected to achieving certain goals related to carbon emissions and board diversity.

Read the full report here.

Sleep Country Canada

A Canada-wide mattress retailer, Sleep Country Canada has 265 stores.

Report highlights: More than nine-in-10 (91 per cent) of the mattresses and foundations it sells contain sustainable materials. In 2021, Sleep Country diverted over 165,000 mattresses and foundations from landfills, which resulted in more than 80 per cent of materials being recovered.

Emissions goal: Net-zero climate positive by 2040.

Scope 1 and 2: N/A

Scope 3: N/A

Certifications: Its mattress materials have third-party certifications, such as CertiPUR-US and/or OEKO-TEX, non-toxic materials, Seaqual and organic cotton.

Third-party verifiers: RecycleSmart, a third party that consolidates waste and manages recycling at the company’s retail sites and warehouses across Canada.

DEI plans: Mandatory equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging training. Convened a CEO-led Inclusion Council with seven senior leadership members dedicated to increasing understanding, promoting awareness and holding leaders accountable for creating a more diverse organization. Launched three associate resource groups, encouraging associates with common characteristics – such as race, gender, disability, sexuality or any other defining life experience.

ESG strategy: Piloting the electrification of its vehicle fleet, resulting in a reduction of fuel costs by 32.3 per cent and total carbon dioxide emissions by 55.9 per cent by switching from five-ton cube trucks to 2.5-ton, 16-foot vans.

Decarbonizing operations via energy efficiency at its stores and warehouses. Examples include a pilot project at three locations connecting AI-enabled technologies to HVAC and lighting equipment. The setup includes an analysis module to collect, report and audit energy use to optimize heating, cooling and lighting. Expected to roll out across its entire real estate network in 2022, Sleep Country Canada says it will reduce GHG emissions, improve its energy footprint and save on maintenance fees, as the AI software reduces run-times and lengthens the life of lighting and HVAC equipment.

Read the full report here.

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