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US retailers ignore HFC replacements

11573888_sUSA: Leading US supermarkets have been criticised for doing little to phase out HFC refrigerants.

In a new report, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals that US supermarkets are falling behind retail chains in Canada, Europe, and Japan in moving away from high GWP HFCs.

Beyond the Dirty Dozen, a follow up to EIA’s 2013 report The Dirty Dozen, claims that US companies opened only eight new supermarkets featuring HFC-free refrigeration in 2014. Of the 12 companies EIA surveyed for this report, including Whole Foods Market, only one – Delhaize – is considering a commitment to completely phase out HFCs.

With more than 37,000 supermarkets across the US, the EIA claims these are leaking an average of 1,556 tonnes of CO2-equivalent HFCs each year.

“America’s supermarkets are falling far short of playing their part to contain dangerous climate change,” commented EIA executive director Alexander von Bismarck. “In particular, Walmart’s failure so far to follow through on its commitments are a disaster for the global climate. As the world’s largest retailer Walmart has a responsibility to lead and not to undercut its sustainability commitments, and those of the US government.”

Eight of the dozen supermarkets surveyed by EIA are members of the influential Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global network of the world’s largest retailers and food manufacturers. In 2010, CGF members agreed a resolution to begin phasing out HFCs in new refrigeration equipment by 2015.

EIA’s report surveyed 12 retail chains accounting for approximately 45% of US supermarkets: Albertson’s, Ahold, Costco, Delhaize, HEB, Kroger, Meijer, Publix, Safeway, Target, Walmart and Wholefoods. Each supermarket’s performance was rated in four areas: HFC policies and uses, partnerships and pledges; refrigeration inspection and maintenance to reduce HFC leakages, and energy efficiency.

The report can be viewed and downloaded here.

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