HFCs Account for 63% of Kroger’s Direct Climate Emissions; Grocery Chain Commits to Alternatives in Only 7 New Locations, But No Plans for Nearly 2,800 Existing Stores.
WASHINGTON DC – JUNE 9, 2022 – Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the United States, is facing new pressure from a coalition of stakeholders after delaying and undermining efforts by the industry to eliminate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from refrigeration systems. HFCs are greenhouse gases with thousands of times the warming capacity of carbon dioxide, and supermarkets are leaking millions of tons of them every year.
Green America and Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) launched a new action calling on consumers to sign a letter to Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen demanding the company adopt ultra-low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants and replace current HFC systems at all of its nearly 2,800 stores by 2030. Currently, Kroger has only committed to using non-HFC alternatives at seven new stores.
The consumer action comes just ahead of Kroger’s June 23 annual meeting at which a shareholder resolution filed by Friends Fiduciary will be voted on that asks Kroger to prepare a report on eliminating the use of hydrofluorocarbons. The resolution notes that “Kroger’s apparent lack of a comprehensive plan to eliminate HFCs in refrigeration exposes Kroger to financial, regulatory and reputational risks.”
“HFCs account for 63% of Kroger’s direct climate emissions,” said Dan Howells, Climate Campaigns Director at Green America. “Kroger has known about this problem for years, but its efforts are failing to meet the urgency of the issue. The climate crisis is here, and we need Kroger to provide a clear, detailed plan to cut these dangerous emissions on a more aggressive timeline.”
Kroger scored only 16/100 on EIA’s 2020 Supermarket Scorecard, which tracks the largest U.S. supermarkets on their efforts to reduce HFC emissions, lagging behind its competitors: ALDI, Whole Foods, Target, Publix, Meijer and others.
“There is a global effort to phase down HFCs because of their potent climate impacts. It is incredibly shocking that a company like Kroger continues to rely on these obsolete climate destroying coolants when there are myriad other widely available and used HFC-free options,” said Avipsa Mahapatra, Climate Campaign Lead at Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). “Kroger must commit to adopting ultra-low GWP refrigerants in all new stores and to share a plan to phase out use of HFCs by 2030.”
Refrigerant leaks from US supermarkets emit 45 million metric tons of greenhouse gases every year, the equivalent of 9.5 million cars on the road. Following pressure from Green America, EIA, and allies, Walmart announced that it would transition to “low-impact” refrigerants by 2040.
Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems. www.GreenAmerica.org. Over a hundred thousand consumers have joined Green America’s Cool It Campaign to demand that supermarkets cut HFC super pollutants that accelerate the climate crisis.
Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is an independent non-profit campaigning organization dedicated to identifying, investigating, and implementing solutions to protect endangered wildlife, forests, and the global climate. EIA Climate campaign is working to eliminate powerful greenhouse gases and improve energy efficiency in the cooling sector, and expose related illicit trade to campaign for new policies, improved governance, and more effective enforcement. www.eia-global.org. EIA created the first interactive grassroots platform for corporate accountability on refrigerants, at www.climatefriendlysupermarkets.org. Hundreds of citizen activists have submitted data to EIA’s map and signed petitions urging supermarkets to transition to HFC-free technologies.
MEDIA CONTACT: Parke Qua for Green America, (216) 276-2476 or [email protected].
Avipsa Mahapatra for EIA, [email protected]