A blurred-out photo of several shoppers browsing a supermarket freezer aisle

U.S. Supermarkets Drag Feet on Climate-Friendly Refrigerants, EIA Scorecard Highlights

Today, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) released its third bi-annual Climate-Friendly Supermarket Scorecard assessing major U.S. supermarket chains on actions to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – potent greenhouse gases used in cooling with climate impacts thousands of times higher than CO2. Overall, despite the widespread availability of climate-friendly technology, of the sixteen companies evaluated, only three companies received passing scores.

“Our third scorecard serves as a stark wake-up call: the biggest American supermarkets continue to use and leak easily avoidable super pollutants. The lack of transparency and sluggish adoption of HFC-free technology by several of these companies receiving failing scores, is inexcusable in the face of our climate crisis.” said Avipsa Mahapatra, EIA’s Climate Campaign Director.  “We laud the handful of companies like Aldi, that are leading the charge by transparently and publicly sharing their time-bound action plans on eliminating the use of HFCs”

EIA Scorecard reveals:

  • ALDI, Whole Foods, and Target continue to lead the sector with the highest overall scores. 
  • ALDI is the top scorer overall and in technology adoption with hundreds more HFC-free stores than any competitor; Meijer is the highest scorer in refrigerant management with the lowest leak rate; and Walmart and ALDI are tied for the highest in policy engagement and commitments.
  • Giant Eagle, Meijer, and Southeastern Grocers have yet to install HFC-free refrigeration in a single store, although several stores have partial installations.
  • Eleven of the sixteen companies have less than one percent of their stores using entirely ultra-low GWP refrigerants.
  • Walmart has made a major commitment to eliminate all emissions including HFCs by 2040, but has only installed ultra-low GWP refrigerants in a single store and released no specifics on its implementation plans or anticipated milestones. 
  • Twelve of the sixteen companies have a public commitment to reduce refrigerant emissions; however, only eight have a time-bound goal for reducing HFCs. 
  • Emissions from refrigerant leaks among all U.S. supermarkets are estimated to equal 65 billion pounds of coal burned in a year. Several companies showed progress on efforts to reduce refrigerant leak rates, although only five of the companies disclose an annual average leak rate.

There has been an increase in commitments by companies to tackle refrigerant emissions, but EIA’s scorecard results indicate a slow adoption of climate-friendly, ultra-low global warming potential (<10 GWP) refrigerants in stores and limited details about implementation plans to meet these company goals.

“EIA urges citizens, investors, and companies to commit to and implement actions toward a complete phase out of these gases globally,” said Beth Porter, Senior Climate Policy Analyst with EIA. “Long-term commitments need interim targets and public progress to ensure the ultimate goal to curb these emissions is achieved on time.” 

EIA calls on these major companies to develop detailed strategies with interim targets to phase out HFC refrigerants from all stores, immediately commit to using HFC-free technology in new stores, and develop no-tolerance policies for leaks to ensure rapid repair to curb emissions. 

Full scorecard results and recommended actions for improvement here https://www.climatefriendlysupermarkets.org/scorecard