Over 63% of Kroger’s direct climate-damaging emissions are HFCs, highly potent greenhouse gases used in its refrigeration. HFCs have enormous global warming power and are accelerating the climate crisis.
Despite the significant contribution of HFCs on Kroger’s climate impacts, the company has not set a target to end its use of these potent refrigerants. That’s why EIA is partnering with Green America and other organizations to push Kroger to phase out HFCs from all its stores by 2030 (sign our joint action here).
HFCs have thousands of times the global warming potential (GWP) of carbon dioxide and are used as refrigerants in cooling systems. Refrigerant leaks from U.S. supermarkets are the emissions equivalent of 49 billion pounds of coal being burned each year. Several companies have taken action to reduce HFCs and switch to climate-friendly refrigerant alternatives in many stores. But Kroger has only committed to use HFC-free refrigeration in seven new stores, but has no plans for its nearly 2,800 existing stores. At this rate, it would take Kroger centuries to move off HFCs.
Public and regulatory pressure has successfully pushed retail giants like Walmart to begin addressing HFCs. As recently as 2020, Walmart’s HFC emissions were steadily rising each year, and it had no commitment or public plan to stop using HFCs. However, over hundred thousand people signed our petition to Walmart and investors urged the company to release a plan on transitioning away from HFCs. EIA’s investigative report on Walmart’s refrigerant leaks gained media attention, building more pressure on the retailer to address its emissions.
Now, Walmart is finally taking steps in the right direction by setting a goal to phase out HFCs, opening its first U.S. HFC-free store, and stating it will use ultra-low GWP refrigerants in all new construction where commercially available. Walmart has also engaged in policy advocacy for stronger regulations.
Walmart follows the steps of major food retailers transitioning to climate-friendly refrigerants, including Aldi, Target, and Whole Foods. Given the widespread adoption of HFC-free technologies in the US today, there’s no reason why Kroger should continue to delay transitioning away from HFCs. While Kroger has adopted practices to improve its refrigerant management, it has done too little to scale installation of HFC-free technology. Kroger’s public materials do not include a time bound commitment nor a plan for transitioning to HFC-free systems. Additionally, Kroger scored 16/100 on EIA’s 2020 Supermarket Scorecard, lagging behind many of its competitors on addressing HFCs.
Kroger’s investors are calling on the company to develop a plan to end its use of HFCs through a shareholder resolution filed by Friends Fiduciary to be voted on at the annual shareholder meeting on June 23. As it states, “Kroger’s apparent lack of a comprehensive plan to eliminate HFCs in refrigeration exposes Kroger to financial, regulatory and reputational risks.” We hope many of Kroger’s investors will join Friends Fiduciary in urging the company to take action by supporting the proposal.
It’s past time for Kroger, one of the leading food retailers in the United States, to take action on this important climate issue. That’s why our organizations are urging Kroger to commit to adopting ultra-low GWP refrigerants (<10 GWP) in all new stores and retrofits, and to develop a plan to phase out use of HFCs by 2030.
Join EIA and thousands of consumers who have signed, calling on Kroger to transition away from harmful super pollutants.