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

Walmart is failing to honor its commitment to roll back greenhouse HFC gases

This post originally appeared on Triple Pundit's website.

Muhtar Kent, the CEO of Coca-Cola, is said to have telephoned Mike Duke, the CEO of Walmart, on Thanksgiving Day 2010 to ask him to sign the Consumer Goods Forum’s (CGF) resolution, which asks companies to begin phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 2015.

Walmart’s Duke agreed, as did more than 400 other retailers, manufacturers, and stakeholders that make up the CGF. In an impressive step to take meaningful action to protect the global climate, the CGF publicly released its HFC resolution on the first day of the Cancun Climate Summit in 2010.

Nearly three years have passed since the CGF resolution; and the world’s largest retailer, with revenue of more than $460 billion in 2012 and a notable environmental track record greening its supply chain, has failed to make any substantial progress towards keeping its commitment to phase-down HFCs.

HFCs – super greenhouse gases with hundreds to thousands of times more warming potential than carbon dioxide – are commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners. Even though HFC-free refrigeration technologies are readily available in the marketplace, Walmart continues to use HFCs in all but a tiny handful of its U.S. stores, which contributes 13 percent of the company’s total carbon footprint. HFC leakage from one store alone can, on average, emit more carbon dioxide equivalent emissions than 300 passenger cars emit each year.

As detailed in our report, The Dirty Dozen: How your local supermarket is killing the climate, Walmart has yet to publicly produce a clear and comprehensive policy on HFCs, develop a state-of-the-art maintenance and operations program to reduce HFC refrigerant leakage, or install any HFC-free refrigeration systems in new or existing stores. This is despite signing the CGF HFC resolution three years ago, and opening 146 new stores in 2012 in the United States. If Walmart continues to procrastinate, it will lose its opportunity to be an industry leader.

Walmart looks great on paper

In 2012, EIA and the Sierra Club wrote to Walmart urging them to build at least 50 percent of their new stores with HFC-free refrigeration. In response, the company stated that it’s on track to meet its commitment.

We are “currently executing a global strategy to address harmful refrigerants, and develop and incorporate the latest innovations and technologies in effective, energy efficient, and environmentally responsible refrigeration solutions,” the letter stated. “We believe our role as the world’s largest retailer comes with responsibility to lead the way in protecting the environment.”

In our report, we found that if Walmart employs similar maintenance practices as it does in its UK chain, Asda, it would prevent HFC emissions of about 3.2 million tons of CO2e, which is the same as the annual greenhouse gas emissions from over 600,000 cars. This figure is only from reducing leakage rates of HFC refrigeration systems, so if Walmart commits to taking action on HFC-free refrigeration, it would greatly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Turning words into action

Companies throughout Europe and Canada are beginning to make the switch, installing natural refrigeration systems that use common alternatives such as hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, and ammonia. In Europe alone, there are almost 3,000 supermarkets using HFC-free refrigeration systems. Some supermarkets in the United States have started installing HFC-free systems, such as Hannaford’s. Supermarkets with these HFC-free systems have found that natural refrigerant gases are generally cheaper than HFCs and more energy efficient with energy savings between 10-50 percent.

Walmart has an obligation to lead the way in sustainability. Walmart can choose to be a leader in instituting energy efficient HFC-free refrigeration or it can continue to use outdated, inefficient, climate-damaging technologies and fall behind its competitors. To maintain its self-anointed role as the industry leader for environmental protection, Walmart must validate its statements and become a leader in climate-friendly HFC-free refrigeration technologies.

For more information, please contact the authors.

Danielle Gagne
HFC & Climate Policy Analyst
or 202-483-6621

Lowell Chandler
HFC Intern

View all Blog Posts

Recent Blog Posts

Can I be HFC-free? A Quest for Climate-friendly Cooling
Supermarkets in particular have enormous refrigeration systems that extend past the display cases to back room chillers, refrigerated trucks, cold warehouses and so on. With such large systems, supermarkets are among the largest corporate offenders of HFC use, with thousands of tons of these chemicals throughout their cold chain. Yet out of nearly 40,000 supermarkets in the U.S., barely 1% are known to have transitioned to HFC-free systems; our Supermarket Scorecard shows that action and change throughout the industry is needed. These large companies have a greater climate footprint than you or me, and thus a greater responsibility to transition to climate-friendly alternatives.
Finding the Promise in Compromise: EIA Proposal to Jumpstart California HFC Reclaim
Last week EIA participated in California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) 6th workshop on proposed regulations to reduce emissions of super pollutant hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in cooling. The state’s rigorous process for proposing new regulations on HFC refrigerants has been ongoing for several years now and is in the final stretch. Opportunities for stakeholder engagement have been abundant and ARB has invited input from industry along the way. They even aligned with an industry proposed 2023 deadline for transitioning new air conditioning equipment to refrigerants with a global warming potential (GWP) less than 750.

Recent Reports

EIA Comments to OEWG-42
EIA Comments to the 42nd Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG-42) TEAP Replenishment Task Force Report .
EIA Comments on ASHRAE-15 Standards Proposal
EIA comments on a proposed revision to a major U.S. safety standards, ASHRAE-15, calling for important revisions.

Recent Press Releases

Climate-friendly Supermarket Scorecard
Today, EIA launched the Climate-friendly Supermarket Scorecard assessing the largest U.S. supermarkets on actions and commitments to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - potent greenhouse gases used in cooling.
EIA Response to New Nature Paper on Urgent Need to Recover and Destroy CFC Banks
Washington DC – A new paper published in Nature today warns that emissions from ‘banks’ of ozone-destroying CFCs, could potentially delay the Antarctic ozone hole recovery by about six years. The new paper, Quantifying contributions of chlorofluorocarbon banks to emissions and impacts on the ozone layer and climate, also estimates that future emissions from current CFC banks could lead to an additional 9 billion metric tonnes CO2e between 2020 and 2100.
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