The first US supermarket to address climate-forcing HFCs (hydroflourocarbons) is in Maine in the tiny town of Turner.
Belgium-based Delhaize America, which owns the Hannaford supermarket chain, opened the first store that chills and freezes foods using carbon dioxide instead of super-greenhouse gas HFCs.
Carbon dioxide is a natural refrigerant that’s used in Canada and Europe in moderate to cold climates.
Just using this system will cut the store’s carbon footprint by 3.4 million pounds a year. Delhaize’s goal is to lower greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020.
Besides eliminating HFCs, using carbon is more energy efficient, inexpensive, and leaks are easy to fix.
"We realized that refrigerant emissions could easily be 25%- 30% of the greenhouse gas emissions pie," says Harrison Horning, Director of Energy and Facility Services of Delhaize North America.
Whole Foods and Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets also plan to begin using carbon refrigerants this year.
"Natural refrigerants are more energy efficient than HFCs in many applications, they are better for the environment, they are reliable, and there is absolutely no reason that U.S. supermarkets are not aggressively transitioning now. There are no more excuses, the time has come to phase-out these harmful refrigerants," says the Environmental Investigation Agency.
HFCs were introduced to replace ozone-depleting chemicals under the Montreal Protocol. Although they don’t harm the ozone layer, they are powerful greenhouse gases – 11,700 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
HFCs are commonly used in air conditioners, refrigerators, insulating foams, solvents and aerosol products. Alternatives are readily available.
When Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State, formed a coalition to address climate forcers such as HFCs, which are dramatically accelerating the pace of climate change. Most recently, President Obama made phasing out HFCs a priority in his climate change speech.
Last year, a consortium of over 400 companies, including Unilever, Tesco, Coca-Cola and Walmart, agreed to use climate-friendly refrigerants and stop using HFCs, beginning in 2015.