This victory originally appeared in our Spring 2023 Green American Magazine
When it comes to keeping your tater tots cold, Trader Joe’s has long ranked at the bottom of the pack of supermarkets in terms of refrigerant management, which is a major driver of climate change. In 2016, the grocery chain settled a lawsuit with the US Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency because of its significant leaks of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCS), which violated the Clean Air Act, and have thousands of times the global warming potential of CO2 .
But, in January 2023, Trader Joe’s finally announced that all its new stores will use, ironically, CO2 refrigerants, which are much better for the planet than conventional HFC coolants. The announcement comes after over 20,000 Green Americans urged Trader Joe’s to do better, and after the Environmental Investigation Agency, a Green America ally, ranked Trader Joe’s poorly on its Climate-Friendly Supermarkets Scorecard.
“Consumer awareness and concern about Trader Joe’s climate emissions is having an impact,” says Dan Howells, Green America’s climate campaigns director. “But Trader Joe’s has a long way to go to catch up with grocery chains like Aldi, Target, and Whole Foods on climate-friendly refrigerants. Trader Joe’s now needs to retrofit its 530 existing stores to use ultra-low Global Warming Potential refrigerants.” In the coming months, Green America will be calling on its members to take action to urge Trader Joe’s, Kroger, and other major grocers to end their use of refrigerants that are a significant driver of climate change in all of their stores.