Albertson Companies, one of the largest U.S. supermarket chains with $77.6 billion (€71.8 billion) in sales, reported in its newly released 2023 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Report that it currently has three stores that use CO2 (R744) refrigerant systems, with plans to further expand that number in the coming year.
“As part of our Climate Action strategy, we have developed a roadmap to reduce our refrigerant leakage rate and convert to lower global warming potential refrigerants in our operations,” the report said. “We have committed capital to these projects and are working with our operating divisions to ensure we drive execution in support of local, state, and national refrigerant goals and requirements.”
As of February 25, 2023, Albertsons Companies, based in Boise, Idaho, operated 2,271 retail stores with 1,722 pharmacies, 401 associated fuel centers, 22 dedicated distribution centers and 19 manufacturing facilities. The organization runs stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under 24 banners including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lovers Market.
In 2022, Albertson Companies completed more than 85 projects to transition stores to lower-GWP refrigerants, the report said. Its 22 distribution centers and 19 manufacturing facilities primarily use ammonia (R717) refrigeration systems. It is also piloting nitrogen transportation refrigeration units to reduce emissions from refrigerated trailers.
In addition, the company said it increased its focus on “strategic innovation and partnerships” in early refrigerant leak detection technology and forming “innovative collaborations with leading universities and research organizations.”
Albertsons Companies reported emitting 1,799,033 metric tons of gross global Scope 1 CO2e emissions from refrigerants during its 2022 fiscal year (February 27, 2022–February 25, 2023). Its total Scope 1 emissions in 2022 were 2,499,308 metric tons, down from 2,828,955 in 2019.
Last year, in an independent evaluation of large U.S. supermarket chains’ actions to reduce emissions of high-GWP HFCs, the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) ranked Albertsons Companies 11th out of 16. Albertsons scored 13% in technology adoption, 24% in refrigerant management and 14% in policy and commitments. Its percentage change from 2020 was just 1%, said the EIA.
According to the agency, ultra-low-GWP refrigerants are used in less than 1% of Albertsons Companies stores and in more than 50% of its distribution centers. “Greater transparency about Albertsons’ annual average leak rate and setting a time-bound target to eliminate HFCs across stores would improve its score,” said the EIA.
“Despite some improvement since the last scorecard in 2020, most U.S. supermarket retailers have made insufficient progress in phasing out HFCs and improving refrigerant management practices,” said the EIA.
“The American supermarket sector continues to inexcusably lag behind European counterparts and it must swiftly adopt HFC-free cooling,” it continued. “This not only makes climate-sense, given both the reduction in direct emissions as well as enhanced energy efficiency, but also makes business-sense given new HFC regulations in the U.S. and globally, which would inevitably result in supply shortages and high prices of HFCs.”
According to the “Natural Refrigerants: State of the Industry 2022” report, published by ATMOsphere, there were 55,000 stores in Europe using transcritical CO2 systems as of December 2022, while in the U.S. there were 1,030 stores employing those systems. ATMOsphere is the publisher of R744.com.
47% carbon reduction by 2030
In its 2023 ESG Report Albertsons Companies said it aims for a 47% carbon reduction in its operations by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2040, adding that it reduced carbon emissions by 21% between 2019 and 2022. “In 2022, we made meaningful progress against our commitments, further aligning what we do with who we are as a company,” said Vivek Sankaran, CEO of Albertsons Companies, in a statement.
Albertsons Companies’ 2030 emissions reduction goal has been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), the gold standard for emissions goals developed by the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), World Resources Institute, World Wildlife Fund and the United Nations Global Compact. SBTi standards require companies to not only address emissions from their own operations (Scopes 1 and 2), but also material emissions from their value chain (Scope 3). “Our emissions reduction goals are based on a 2019 baseline, and we annually report carbon emissions through the CDP’s Climate Change Disclosure,” said the report.
To achieve its 2030 carbon reduction goal, Albertsons Companies is focusing on reducing emissions from refrigeration systems (Scope 1); reducing and optimizing energy demand and increasing procurement of renewable energy (Scope 2); and engaging top suppliers to set science-based carbon reduction goals and creating opportunities to reduce emissions from the fuel customers buy and use (Scope 3).
In 2022 Albertsons Companies completed more than 1,100 energy efficiency projects. Projects included installing LED lighting, doors on refrigerated cases and building-management systems and more.
“As part of our Climate Action strategy, we have developed a roadmap to reduce our refrigerant leakage rate and convert to lower global warming potential refrigerants in our operations.”Albertsons Companies 2023 ESG report