North America

New Video Urges U.S. Shoppers to Lobby Supermarkets to Get Rid of HFCs

A new video from U.S. NGO Green America is the latest step in its campaign to educate consumers about the climate danger posed by leaking HFC refrigerants in supermarkets, and urge them to call on grocery chains to use climate-friendly refrigerants.

“Safer, smarter refrigeration systems exist but stores won’t change without pressure from customers like you,” says the video, called “Cool It For Climate”; it can be viewed at Green America’s website

Green America’s ongoing “Cool It” campaign “has already mobilized thousands of consumers to call on Walmart, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., to improve its record on the issue,” said Green America in a statement announcing the video. 

According to Green America, HFCs make up nearly half of Walmart’s direct emissions, and “while the company has publicly noted the importance of refrigerant management, it has yet to install even one HFC-free system in its U.S. stores.”

Walmart was recently given a rating of 15% out of 100% by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) on its recently released Supermarket Scorecard, which ranked major U.S. grocery chains on their refrigerant practices. 

“Our assessment of the top-grossing U.S. supermarket chains last month revealed that by continuing to irresponsibly use and leak potent super pollutant HFCs, most supermarkets are failing to adequately address the climate crisis they are contributing to,” said Avipsa Mahapatra, Climate Campaign lead, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).“It is a shame that they continue to make current and future generations pay the price for their complacency, when HFC-free technology is so widely available and used.”

A Walmart spokesperson acknowledged that much of the company company’s refrigerants are still HFCs, but added that in the U.S. and internationally Walmart operates “hundreds of facilities that are near-HFC-free and utilize ultra-low GWP refrigerants, including carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia (NH3), and more on the way.” The company is moving to refrigerant gases with low- and ultra-low GWP for new systems “as they become commercially viable by 2025,” the spokesperson said, adding that all of Walmart’s distribution centers in the U.S. use ammonia.

Really, really bad

The “Cool It For Climate” video aims to raises new awareness about the HFC problem and highlight alternative refrigerants. “To put it bluntly, HFCs are really, really bad for the climate,” says the video.

Green America said it is working to change the supermarket sector “because U.S. supermarkets leak roughly 45 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from refrigerants every year – the equivalent of 9.5 million cars on the road.”

 “The climate impacts of refrigerants are staggering, and companies need to be held accountable for their HFC emissions that are rapidly warming the planet,” said Beth Porter, Green America’s Climate Campaigns director.“We hope this new video will inspire even more people to push huge supermarket chains to eliminate these super pollutants from stores.”

“The impacts of HFCs used in refrigeration and air conditioning aren’t usually included in corporate responsibility actions on climate – and we want that to change,” added Todd Larsen, Green America’s executive co-director. “Alternative refrigerants and better management practices are widely available that protect the climate and support energy efficiency in stores. We believe companies like Walmart should embrace these changes for the immense benefits that they provide.”

Green America pointed out that  U.S. chains like ALDI US, Lidl, Whole Foods and Target are using sustainable refrigerants that have zero or near-zero warming potential.

EIA noted in its scorecard that ALDI US has “over 300” HFC-free stores in operation, Last September, Amber Hardy, director of energy management for ALDI US said that the chain had installed transcritical CO2 systems in more than 200 stores, the most of any retailer in the U.S.; many of its stores have eight to 10 self-contained R290 cases, she added. The company has outlined an ambitious agenda to roll out transcritical CO2 systems chainwide.

Safer, smarter refrigeration systems exist but stores won’t change without pressure from customers like you.

Green America’s “Cool It For Climate” video