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New Report Urges America's 'Dirty Dozen' Supermarkets to Replace HFCs

America’s largest supermarkets and retailers, including Walmart and Whole Foods, are failing to take meaningful steps to replace climate-damaging hydroflourcarbons (HFCs), according to a new report released today by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a U.S.- and London-based nonprofit committed to exposing environmental crime.

America’s largest supermarkets and retailers, including Walmart and Whole Foods, are failing to take meaningful steps to replace climate-damaging hydroflourcarbons (HFCs), according to a new report released today by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a U.S.- and London-based nonprofit committed to exposing environmental crime.

The report, The Dirty Dozen: How your local supermarket is killing the climate finds that Ahold USA, Costco, Delhaize, HEB, Kroger, Meijer, Publix, Safeway, Supervalu, Target, Walmart and Whole Foods have not taken substantial action to phase out HFCs or reduce the amount of HFC emissions leaking from refrigeration systems. HFCs are the most common refrigerants used in supermarket refrigeration systems, which are also super greenhouse gases with global-warming potential thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide (CO2). The EIA says each US supermarket emits on average 1,556 metric tons of HFCs annually from leaks in their systems, which is equivalent to more than 300 passenger cars.

“The results from the survey are not just disappointing but shocking, given that climate-friendly alternative technologies are available in the marketplace,” said EIA president Allan Thornton.

“Although momentum for reducing super greenhouse emissions is growing worldwide, even Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has failed to show leadership by taking meaningful action to protect the global climate from further damage.”

While Costco and Meijer scored the lowest and Delhaize America scored the highest, none of the stores received a passing grade, despite the majority of the retailers being members of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), an international network of the world’s largest retailers, which in 2010 committed to begin phasing out HFCs in 2015.

“The survey results confirm that voluntary measures have failed to persuade the ‘Dirty Dozen’ to phase out outdated HFC refrigeration technologies,” said Danielle Gagne, HFC & Climate Policy Analyst. “We urge the Obama Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to require supermarkets to eliminate these harmful emissions.”

President Obama recently announced that phasing-down HFCs is a top priority in his Climate Action Plan, which tasks the Environmental Protection Agency with removing some of the highest global warming potential HFCs from the market. Furthermore, more than 125 nations support proposals to phase out HFCs under the Montreal Protocol — the international treaty to protect the ozone layer and the most cost-effective and efficient multilateral treaty available to deal with HFCs.

Fear not, Dirty Dozen: EOS Climate, a semi-finalist in this year’s SB Innovation Open, offers an innovative technology platform called Refrigerant Revolution — which incentivizes the environmentally responsible use of fluorochemical refrigerants throughout their lifecycle by turning them from a liability to an asset. By tracking refrigerants across the supply chain, Refrigerant Revolution enables companies to not only derive more value over time from their refrigerants by recycling them, it enables them to remove them from the supply chain and dispose of them in an environmentally safe way.

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