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Mélanie Lussier, director, external communications and sustainable development, and Keven Rousseau, advisor, sustainable development, at RONA inc.Provided

Keven Rousseau had achieved his master’s degree in environmental management and worked with some small enterprises when, two years ago, he was looking for an opportunity to have a greater impact.

“At RONA there is executive buy-in,” says Rousseau, who became advisor, sustainable development, at the company. “It helps us to be bold in what we suggest. Not every senior leader would have championed some of our team’s innovative projects.”

From its head office in the Greater Montreal area, RONA operates and services a network of some 450 corporate and affiliated dealer stores from coast to coast under the Lowe’s, RONA, Réno-Dépôt and Dick’s Lumber banners. Combined with the company’s online channels, these stores have been meeting the needs of Canada’s home improvement DIYers and contractors alike since 1939.

RONA’s sustainability strategy relies on three pillars: to help customers reduce their environmental footprint, to reduce the environmental impact of RONA’s operations, and to support employees and communities.

“Moved by the desire to be a leader in sustainability, RONA stopped offering single-use plastic shopping bags at all its locations in 2022, a first in the home improvement retail sector,” says Mélanie Lussier, director, external communications and sustainable development.

In 2022, RONA also received the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec’s Sustainable Development Strategy Mercure award, which recognized the company’s achievements in improving the energy efficiency of its buildings.

“Every year we initiate new projects and take on new measures for the environment,” says Lussier. “It’s important for us that we continue to improve how we do things and to contribute to building a better world for future generations.”

New measures that were implemented over the past year include creating an employee engagement initiative in stores across the country called the ECO Squad.

At RONA, engaging employees in the organization’s sustainability initiatives is key to driving meaningful change and results.

“When we collaborate with stores on a project, there is an overall willingness to help. People genuinely care about doing the right thing and improving how we operate from an environmental standpoint,” says Rousseau.

The new ECO Squad plays a big part in store engagement. It was important for Rousseau that members of the squad in each store volunteered for the role – and their enthusiasm shows, he says. Each month, he meets virtually with them to talk about sustainability, sharing information on policies and procedures, as well as best practices. The ECO Squad has been instrumental in moving the new waste management project forward.

Last year, in order to send the least possible waste to landfill, RONA launched a program to track waste management performance in stores and implemented an incentives program. Each quarter, the store with the best diversion rate and the store with the biggest rate increase, in the east and the west, is awarded a prize of $1,000 to give to a local environmental charity – for a total of four stores each quarter. As a thank you to the winning stores’ teams, 10 gift cards are also drawn among employees.

“RONA’s success in achieving sustainability targets hinges on spreading the culture of sustainability to its employees,” says Lussier. “Our sustainability strategy and initiatives differentiate us from other companies, and we clearly see that people want to work and shop with companies that have the same values they do.”

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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.

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