100,000+ Consumers Say Walmart Should Not Put Off Curbing Climate-Harming Refrigerants for 20 Years

Row of supermarket freezers

New Announcement Waiting Until 2040 to Phase Out HFCs Leaves Walmart Way Behind Competitors – Including Aldi, Target, and Whole Foods – Who Already Have Taken Action

Washington, D.C. (September 21, 2020) Green America and Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), along with other partners, are urging Walmart to move faster on climate-harming refrigerant hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Today, the retail giant announced it would be transitioning to low-impact refrigerants for cooling and electrified equipment for heating in its stores, clubs, and data and distribution centers by 2040, a deadline that is decades after its major competitors, including Aldi, Target, and Whole Foods started making the switch. Walmart also failed to offer a plan to address current leaks of HFCs from its stores in its announcement.

Walmart's announcement comes after more than 100,000 consumers recently joined Green America, Daily Kos, Greenpeace USA, Friends of the Earth, LeftNet, Progressive Network Reform and additional environmental organizations, in calling on Walmart to reduce emissions from the refrigerants used in its 11,500 stores worldwide. The massive outpouring of petitions to the largest brick and mortar retailer and grocery chain in the US were delivered directly to Walmart over the past month. 

"After mounting consumer pressure and regulatory movement, Walmart has finally announced its new intent to address refrigerants, but offers no specifics on what refrigerants it will use and includes no public goals on its current refrigerant leaks that are fueling the climate crisis." said Beth Porter, Green America’s Climate Campaigns director. “Potent HFC gases make up nearly half of Walmart’s direct emissions and the company has known this for years. It’s past time for Walmart to take action and we need to see clearer details and a more aggressive timeline.”

Green America’s Cool It campaign addresses hydrofluorocarbons, a refrigerant that is a major contributor to climate change. This harmful, synthetic gas is the fastest increasing greenhouse gas entering our atmosphere and thousands of times more potent than CO2.

“It is shocking that despite several supermarkets already adopting HFC-free cooling across America, Walmart is backtracking on its previous commitment to "ultra-low GWP[1]" refrigerants after years of failing to implement that voluntary commitment.” said Avipsa Mahapatra, Climate Campaign Lead, EIA. “Without any measurable near-term targets to transition equipment completely away from HFCs or any strategy to address refrigerant leaks and disposal, today's announcement is grossly inadequate.”

Walmart received a failing grade on the Environmental Investigation Agency’s Climate-Friendly Supermarkets scorecard because the retail giant has failed to install HFC-free refrigerants in any of its stores or join the US EPA’s Green Chill program that works with food retailers to reduce refrigerant emissions. EIA initiated conversations with Walmart around the company’s refrigerant practices in 2015.

Consumers can continue to support the campaign to get Walmart to eliminate refrigerant emissions by joining  Green America’s campaign. They can also support supermarkets that are taking action on refrigerants through EIA’s Climate Friendly Supermarket Map and “thank you” action in partnership with Green America.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Max Karlin for Green America, (703) 276-3255, or mkarlin@hastingsgroup.com.

ABOUT GREEN AMERICA

Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems. http://www.GreenAmerica.org

ABOUT EIA

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is an independent non-profit campaigning organization dedicated to identifying, investigating, and implementing solutions to protect endangered wildlife, forests, and the global climate. EIA Climate campaign is working to eliminate powerful greenhouse gases and improve energy efficiency in the cooling sector, and expose related illicit trade to campaign for new policies, improved governance, and more effective enforcement. www.eia-global.org.


[1] Ultra-low GWP (global warming potential) refrigerants are defined as less than 150 GWP, in line with the European Union's F-Gas Regulation and currently proposed California Air Resources Board regulations.