sustainability goals briarpatch food co-op
Our 2025

Sustainability Goals

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Reach 100% renewable energy & be energy resilient during power outages.

green and low waste packaging

Reduce use of in-house single-use plastic packaging by 40%.

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Reduce use of hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants in existing systems by 50%. Implement natural refrigeration in all new building projects & major retrofits.

Food waste reduction

Divert 100% of food waste and 80% of overall waste from the landfill.

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Carbon Neutral

Produce net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainability is at the core of how we make business decisions at BriarPatch. 

That’s why in 2020, we set ambitious goals focusing on aspects of our operations that make the greatest environmental impact. We’re continuing to make progress towards achieving our 2025 Goals—and lowering our impact in other areas as well, like water conservation.  


Our greatest opportunity to clean up our act—and we have a plan. Hydrofluorocarbon Refrigerants (HFC) leaks represent the largest single source greenhouse gas emission at BriarPatch.   

Our goal is to move to climate-friendly refrigeration systems and cut leak rates in our existing HFC system by 50 percent. And we’re on track to do just that! But we’re not stopping there. We continue to reduce emissions at the Grass Valley location through preventative maintenance and in-house leak detection, and we’re now a proud member of Green Chill, a voluntary EPA partnership that works collaboratively with food retailers like us to reduce refrigerant emissions. In Auburn, we’ve installed a CO2 natural refrigeration system; only 2% of U.S. grocery stores currently use this technology.


On average, the Co-op generates about 50 percent of electricity use with our 295-kilowatt solar carport. We are also working toward our goal of reducing demand with energy efficiency projects like adding doors to refrigerated cases and LED lighting.  


We love food. That’s why we strive to keep 100 percent from going to waste.  

Edible food that cannot be sold goes to our staff or donated to local hunger relief agencies like Interfaith Food Ministries, Food Bank of Nevada County and Hospitality House. 

Food waste that is not fit for consumption is picked up by local farmers three times a week. In one year alone, over 50 tons of organics went to local farmers for animal feed and compost, including pulp from the juice bar, produce culls, coffee grinds and trim from preparing deli and bakery items. 

Waste Diversion

Our current waste diversion is about 64 percent! How do we do this? Reducing, reusing, donating, recycling and composting. 

Beyond municipal recycling, in one year we’ve: 

  • reused and recycled over 100 tons of cardboard. 
  • recycled 6.5 tons of waxed cardboard through Enviro-log. 
  • donated unused displays and equipment to fellow food co-ops and local school food programs. 
  • recycled 3 tons of plastic pallet wrap through a partnership with UNFI.  
  • recycled 3,500 pounds of batteries on behalf of the community. 
  • diverted 50 tons of organics to local farmers for animal feed and composting.

Our goal is to reduce in-house plastic packaging, especially plastics #3-#6 (PVC, PS, PP and LDPE)—the least likely to be recycled and pose the highest environmental and human health risks. 

In a year, we spent 8% less of our total packaging budget on single-use plastic. That means 8% more spent on packaging made from renewable and recyclable materials like glass, PLA and fiber. We said goodbye to plastic straws and polystyrene meat trays and increased deli offerings in glass jars that can be re-used at home.  

Our bulk cheese is now wrapped in biodegradable cellophane made from wood-based fiber. Our Produce Department continues to work with farm-direct partners to identify the most sustainable packaging like paper-based Ready-cycle berry containers. 

We sell and encourage the use of reusable materials whereever possible. This includes grocery bags, produce bags, containers for bulk products, cups for deli drinks, utensils and straws. You can also fill up your water bottle for free at the filtered water refill station in our dining area.  

For more information on in-house packaging considerations, check out our Packaging Policy.   

For more information on packaging for products sold in store, please see our Merchandising Policy.


BriarPatch Co-op is Nevada County’s first commercial building certified by the US Green Building Council’s LEED®: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. The purpose of the LEED® program is to promote sustainable, “green” building design, and ecological approaches to site planning and land development. 


We recognize the importance of conserving water locally. So much so that our definition of Local is anything that is produced or grown within the Sacramento Watershed.  That’s why we are exploring ways to reduce water use and update equipment with water-saving alternatives.   

We used 26 percent less water in one year by working with our water filtration company to recycle more Reverse Osmosis water, saving 873,000 gallons of fresh water annually. 


Poised for Change

According to National Cooperative Grocers, food production including agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and waste, is responsible for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, co-ops across the country prioritizing and building a more sustainable food system.

Part of a Movement

Our commitment to Climate Action is rooted in our First Ends Policy: To act as a leader among local businesses and food co-ops nationally, and contribute to environmental stewardship through our business practices. We’d love to hear your thoughts on our sustainability efforts.

stronger together
Stronger together

As a member of the Climate Collaborative, we’ve pledged to lower emissions by increasing energy efficiency, reducing food waste, transitioning toward sustainable packaging and supporting climate-friendly agricultural practices and policy.

We’ve also joined 160 businesses and Community Food Co-op urging lawmakers to take bold climate action.