Accused Of Violating Clean Air Act, Trader Joe’s To Spend $2M To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

Trader Joe’s will spend $2 million over the next three years to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases leaked from the refrigeration systems at its 453 stores nationwide in order to resolve federal allegations that the company violated the Clean Air Act. 

The Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency announced the agreement this week to settle charges that Trader Joe’s failed to repair leaks of ozone-depleting substances and potent greenhouse gases that are used in its refrigerators.

According to the settlement, EPA investigators claimed that Trader Joe’s failed to fix leaks of “R-22” — a coolant frequently used in refrigerators — within a federally required timeline.

Under current EPA regulations, owners and operators of commercial refrigeration equipment that contain more than 50 pounds of ozone-depleting refrigerants — such as R-22 — are required to fix any leaks within 30 days after detecting them.

The grocery chain also allegedly failed to keep adequate service records for its refrigeration equipment and failed to provide information about its compliance record.

Investigators claimed that one-third of Trader Joe’s equipment uses non-ozone depleting refrigerants, but have a high global warming potential.

As part of the settlement, Trader Joe’s will now implement a corporate refrigerant compliance management system intended to cut down on coolant leaks from refrigerators and better detect and repair issues when they do occur.

Additionally, the company will achieve and maintain an annual corporate-wide average leak rate of 12.1% through 2019, below the company’s current level of 25%.

As part of its $2 million agreement to make improvements, the grocery chain will implement non-ozone depleting refrigerants at all new stores and major remodels, as well as ensuring that at least 15 stores use advanced refrigerants that have less global warming potential, according to the EPA.

In all, the EPA estimates that the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that result from the settlement will be equal to the amount from over 6,500 passenger vehicles driven in one year, the CO2 emissions from 33 million pounds of coal burned, or the carbon emitted by 25,000 acres of forests in one year.

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