In Less Than 2 Weeks, 12,000+ Customers Sign Letter to Kroger CEO on Eliminating the Use of Hydrofluorocarbons that Fuel the Climate Crisis; Consumer Pressure Will Continue Until Kroger Successfully Addresses HFCs.
WASHINGTON DC – JUNE 24, 2022 – Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the United States, is facing growing pressure from customers over its failure to eliminate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), often referred to as “super pollutants,” from its refrigeration systems. HFCs are greenhouse gases with thousands of times the warming capacity of carbon dioxide, and they account for 63% of Kroger’s direct climate emissions.
At the company’s Annual General Meeting, 35% of voting shareholders supported a resolution that the company issue a report on how the company plans to address its HFC and meet its climate goals. In addition, over 12,000 customers signed a petition launched by Green America and Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) on June 9, demanding CEO Rodney McMullen adopt ultra-low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants and replace the 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. Green America and EIA will continue to put pressure on Kroger until the company releases a plan to eliminate the use of HFCs.
Avipsa Mahapatra, Climate Campaign Lead at Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), said: “While Kroger says it is pursuing ambitious carbon reduction targets, it continues to use obsolete potent super greenhouse gases for cooling. The shareholder resolution and mounting customer pressure underline the reputational risks associated with this cognitive dissonance. Kroger has an obligation to stop its continued reliance on these gases, to walk the talk and become a part of the solution to the climate crisis.”
Dan Howells, Climate Campaigns Director at Green America, said: “Kroger needs to listen to customers who understand the dangers of climate change and the need for companies like Kroger to address it. Significant action is needed to keep the communities Kroger serves safe from climate impacts and what they are currently doing is basically ‘clean up in aisle nine.’”
The shareholder resolution filed by Friends Fiduciary asked Kroger to prepare a report on eliminating the use of hydrofluorocarbons. The resolution noted that “Kroger’s apparent lack of a comprehensive plan to eliminate HFCs in refrigeration exposes Kroger to financial, regulatory, and reputational risks.”
It was voted on yesterday during the company’s annual general meeting and received a strong showing of support from investors. This was the second-ever shareholder resolution on refrigerants at a major corporation, indicating a growing awareness and interest among investors to tackle the issue. At the shareholder meeting Kroger pledged to include HFCs in its upcoming 2022 Climate Roadmap but did not provide any specifics on how the company will address HFCs.
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.
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. us.eia.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.