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US stores slow to adopt HFC-free technology

USA: US supermarkets are accused of a lack of transparency and sluggish adoption of HFC-free refrigeration technology.

The claim is made by green group the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in its latest Climate-Friendly Supermarket Scorecard which scores supermarkets on technology adoption, refrigerant management and policy and commitments.

The EIA claims that despite the widespread availability of climate-friendly technology, of the sixteen companies evaluated, only three companies received passing scores. In addition, the report claims that eleven have less than 1% of their stores using entirely ultra-low GWP refrigerants, ie refrigerants with a GWP under 10.

Aldi, Whole Foods, and Target scored highest overall. 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.

“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,” said EIA’s climate campaign director Avipsa Mahapatra.

However, Mahapatra added: “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.”

The report claims that Giant Eagle, Meijer, and Southeastern Grocers have yet to install HFC-free refrigeration in a single store, although accepts that several stores have partial installations.

It complains that while Walmart has made a major commitment to eliminate all emissions including HFCs by 2040, it has only installed ultra-low GWP refrigerants in a single store and released no specifics on its implementation plans or anticipated milestones.

Only five of the companies disclosed an annual average leak rate but the EIA estimates that the average for the sector is 25%. Meijer was the best performer, claiming a 6.5% annual leak rate.

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