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Pennsylvania State Treasurer Joe Torsella called on major U.S. supermarkets to reduce their carbon footprint, by transitioning away from harmful refrigerant chemicals such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Torsella is calling on supermarkets to transition to natural refrigerants with far less environmental impact, and to increase transparency on their efforts to reduce HFC emissions.
“The future of our Commonwealth is dependent on the future of our environment. We must chart a new, sustainable path for generations to come. We no longer have the luxury of time on our side. It is unacceptable for any company to knowingly emit such potent and harmful chemicals into our atmosphere, and take no action to correct it. By transitioning to clean, readily-available technologies, supermarkets have an opportunity to leave these outsized carbon footprints in the past, improve shareholder value, and help us to build a brighter future”, said Treasurer Torsella.
HFCs are greenhouse gases that are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide. Every year, thousands of pounds of HFCs leak out of 38,000 supermarkets and emit the equivalent of up to 45 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the annual impact of 9.7 million passenger vehicles.
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) recently released a climate-friendly Supermarkets Scorecard, which assesses the largest U.S. supermarkets on actions and commitments to reduce HFCs. EIA found that most supermarkets continue to rely on these super pollutants, rather than climate-friendly options that are readily available, such as water and ammonia. Most companies also fall far short of transparent best practices to reduce leaks and manage refrigerants through their full life cycle.
The Scorecard assessed 16 major U.S. supermarkets’ efforts and commitment to reduce the use of HFCs. While most supermarkets still lag, some top-scoring supermarkets have started to make the change to HFC-free technology. Several supermarkets have yet to install HFC-free refrigeration in a single store nationwide.