AUSTIN, Texas (Oct. 24, 2012) – Whole Foods Market is ranked on Newsweek's top 10 list of 'Greenest Retail Companies in the U.S.' in 2012, for the fourth year in a row.

In addition to acknowledgement for its ongoing commitment to environmental responsibility, Whole Foods Market was lauded for its Local Producer Loan Program, which provides small, low-interest loans to local food producers. Whole Foods Market has provided nearly $8 million in loans to date.

With 338 stores in North America and the U.K., Whole Foods Market is a mission-driven company that uses its core values to guide all aspects of its business practices.

“Our core value of ‘Caring about our Communities and our Environment’ has been propelling us to continuously innovate and achieve in all areas of sustainability, not simply what is fashionably ‘green,’” said Kathy Loftus, global leader of sustainable engineering and energy management for Whole Foods Market. “We know that our customers, Team Members and all of our stakeholders depend on this commitment.”

The Newsweek Green Rankings assess the environmental performance of the largest publicly traded companies in the United States and around the world.

The rankings highlight operational energy efficiency as a critical issue for the retail sector. Whole Foods Market has addressed this issue by reducing its electricity use by 7 percent per square foot, compared to a 2008 baseline. This reduction was achieved through smarter design and materials usage in new stores and energy retrofits in existing locations. The company previously announced a goal to reduce energy usage by 25 percent per square foot in their stores by 2015.

The Green Rankings announcement also cites waste generation and disposal as a key industry impact for retailers. Some Whole Foods Market stores have achieved a 90 percent waste diversion rate at this time, while several others consistently divert more than 80 percent of their waste stream from landfills. The company annually recycles more than 34,000 tons of cardboard and composts 50 million pounds of organic materials.

Other important Whole Foods Market green achievements from this year include the company's recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency with the 2012 Green Power Leadership Award and the Superior Achievement Award. Also this year, the company’s North Atlantic kitchen facility began operating on a renewable energy system that generates power using recycled waste cooking oils from its stores and the kitchen itself. Additionally, Whole Foods Market became the first national retailer to no longer carry wild seafood rated red by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Blue Ocean Institute.