If you are looking for EIA UK, it's overhere.

Target Hits a Bullseye for Climate-Friendly Refrigeration in the U.S.

By Christina Starr, Climate Policy Analyst

American consumers looking to make sustainable choices with their grocery shopping dollars may want to consider a new commitment by Target to climate-friendly refrigeration using propane.

The past several years have marked the beginning of a tidal wave of change for grocery retailers around the world seeking to replace hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – the potent greenhouse gases most commonly used today as refrigerants – with climate-friendly alternatives like propane, ammonia, carbon dioxide, water, and air. The U.S. market has been slow to transition to these alternatives compared to regions like Europe, but Target, a retailer with nearly 1,800 stores in the United States, plans to become the first major U.S. retailer to use propane (R-290) as the refrigerant of choice in new and replacement stand-alone refrigeration equipment. Propane, a type of hydrocarbon, is a climate-friendly natural refrigerant.

Target will also be among the first companies in the supermarket industry to open new stores that use an innovative “rackless” refrigeration system, called a propane self-contained system. This system is expected to significantly decrease refrigeration energy use compared to traditional technology. It will also keep grocery aisles warm by reusing the heat emitted by refrigeration systems as a natural by-product, thereby saving additional energy during cold months.

“To have a company like Target come forward and make a commitment for major change is incredibly important for our industry,” said Keilly Witman, Founder of the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council, a group that is trying to overcome the hurdles to wider adoption of natural refrigerants in the United States. “This commitment by Target puts refrigeration and service suppliers on notice that they need to adapt to advanced technology and environmental best practices.”

Target announced the pledge at last month’s ATMOsphere America conference, where it also reiterated its sustainability commitments and pledged to reduce HFC and other greenhouse gas emissions. Target, along with other end users, manufacturers, and policymakers gathered at the conference to discuss the state of the U.S. market for natural refrigerants.

Conversations Shift to Changing Standards to Ease Broader Adoption

One particular hurdle to broader uptake of natural HFC-free refrigerants stood out at the conference. Participants showcased new case studies and technologies as usual, but this year presenters and audience questions focused on industry standards as key barriers to widespread market transformation.

Specifically, the need for increasing charge sizes allowed by industry standards surfaced as a key issue for broad uptake of hydrocarbons like propane. One reason Europe is so far ahead of the United States lies in the inconsistency between European and U.S. standards and codes, of which Europe’s can allow up to 1kg of hydrocarbons for certain uses, while U.S. standards maintain a restrictive 150 gram charge limit under UL 471 and ASHRAE 15. For example, if a retailer in the United States wants to use more than 150 grams, it will encounter significant obstacles, including applying for special approval from federal and local regulators, due to the requirements in these restrictive standards. Changes, both to the UL standard and to ASHRAE 15 (adopted into most building codes) to ease requirements for local jurisdictional approval, will be essential to reducing the market barriers to broader uptake of hydrocarbon refrigerants in the United States.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), SC61C working group 4 is currently considering various proposals to more closely harmonize with European standards, allowing for charge sizes ranging from 300 grams to up to 1kg of hydrocarbon refrigerant when equipment is designed and installed according to necessary safety requirements. These proposals, if approved this year as expected, would set the stage for much broader global uptake. U.S. stakeholders should closely examine the IEC proposals now and begin conversations to lay the groundwork for quick harmonization and adoption in the U.S. under UL and ASHRAE.

EIA commented on proposed changes to ASHRAE 15, highlighting the importance from a climate perspective of updating the standards for all HFC-free alternatives, including hydrocarbons and other climate-friendly alternatives. We look forward to working collaboratively with all stakeholders in the coming months to update both UL and ASHRAE standards to allow smart, safe, and widespread uptake of climate-friendly, HFC-free refrigerants.

The takeaway message is this: Retailers and other end users of HFCs can act now. Doing so will benefit both business and the climate, particularly ahead of the global agreement expected this year at the Montreal Protocol to phase-down HFCs. On the other hand, both manufacturers and end users must also engage proactively with UL and ASHRAE 15 to submit technical proposals to change the necessary standards.

View all Blog Posts

Recent Blog Posts

Unkept Promises: Chemours Newest Targets Miss the Mark
04/16/2021
Following EIA’s call to cease irresponsible operations and subsequent mounting press pressure, the American chemical giant, the Chemours company released a new statement on their climate goals yesterday.
Major Climate Win: Lessons for the Montreal Protocol
02/10/2021
Two new papers published in Nature suggest that the CFC-11 emissions are back on a downward trajectory potentially avoiding substantial delays in the recovery of the ozone layer. The papers show an accelerated decline in global atmospheric concentrations of CFC-11 from 2018 to 2019, and attribute 60% of the decline to China. This is a huge win for the ozone layer and our climate, which would not have been possible without a concerted global response to the findings from the ground and the atmosphere.

Recent Reports

On Thin Ice
11/17/2021
On Thin Ice: How the NHL is Cheating the Climate
EIA briefing to OEWG43: Unexpected CFC-11 emissions
07/09/2021
Briefing to the 43rd Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (OEWG 43)

Recent Press Releases

On Thin Ice
11/17/2021
An EIA investigation has uncovered deeply troubling information that the National Hockey League (NHL) agreed to accept millions of dollars from the Chemours Company (Chemours) to promote their HFC products as environmentally sustainable under the NHL Green program in ice rinks and beyond.
EPA Grants Petitions to Transition Technologies Away from HFCs
10/08/2021
Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded to a series of petitions requesting certain sectors be required to transition away from using most hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in newly manufactured products. EPA granted or partially granted multiple petitions, including the petition submitted by EIA that calls on EPA to replicate HFC regulations recently finalized in California. Other petitions submitted by the California Air Resources Board and other states, and the International Institute for Ammonia Refrigeration call for a similar approach.

Recent Videos

On Thin Ice: How the NHL is Cheating the Climate
11/17/2021
Video evidence captured by EIA investigators reveals that the NHL agreed to accept millions of dollars from the Chemours Company to promote their HFC products as “environmentally sustainable” under the NHL Green program in ice rinks and beyond.
Leaking Havoc: Exposing Your Supermarket’s Invisible Climate Pollution
02/15/2021
An EIA investigation into dozens of supermarkets in the greater Washington, D.C. area, including Virginia and Maryland, found a majority of stores to be leaking super-pollutant hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants
What are the HFC-free Technologies?
Widespread adoption of HFC-free technologies is cost-effective, energy efficient, and climate-friendly. Read EIA’s report Putting the Freeze on HFCs for hundreds of examples of HFC-free technologies available and in use today.
A Global HFC Phase-down
The October 2016 Montreal Protocol meeting in Kigali, Rwanda yielded a global agreement to phase down HFCs. Now countries must ratify and implement the Kigali Amendment! Read and share EIA's briefing on this great opportunity and obligation to avert climate catastrophe.
Help us mitigate climate destroying gases
Where are HFCs used?
What are HFCs?
How to Recycle Your Fridge