Trader Joe’s Cuts Deal on Greenhouse Gases

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Trader Joe’s will pay $2 million to upgrade its refrigeration systems in an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce leaks of greenhouse gases.
     The grocery chain also will pay a $500,000 fine under the June 21 consent decree.
     The improvements the company will make in the next three years should cut greenhouse gases equal by the amount 6,500 cars emit in a year, or the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by burning 33 million pounds of coal, the Department of Justice and EPA said.
     Trader Joe’s did not have to admit liability. Its spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki said Trader Joe’s “looks forward to working with the EPA in its mission to reduce air pollution and protect the ozone layer, and, with this agreement, has committed to reducing its emissions to a rate that matches the best of the industry.”
     The EPA said the grocer violated the Clean Air Act by not promptly repairing leaks of a refrigeration coolant called R-22, a hydrochlorofluorocarbon described as “an ozone-depleting substance and potent greenhouse gas” that has “1,800 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide.”
     The company did not maintain good service records for its refrigeration systems and did not send the EPA required information about its efforts to comply with the Clean Air Act, the federal government said.
     Trader Joe’s agreed to adopt a “refrigerant compliance management system” for all its stores and to detect and repair coolant leaks quarterly. Based in the Los Angeles area, the company has 461 stores in 43 states.
     It also promised to hold its annual chain-wide leakage down to 12.1 percent through 2019, compared to an average rate at grocery stores of 25 percent, the EPA said.
     This is the third time the EPA has penalized national grocery chains for ozone-depleting coolants. Costco paid a $335,000 fine in 2014. Safeway paid $600,000 in 2013 and undertook changes that cost more than $4 million.
     The EPA said its agreement with Trader Joe’s is the first that requires the grocer to repair leaks.

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