ALDI US, already the leading U.S. grocery user of transcritical CO2 (R744), has announced that all stores will use natural refrigerants in refrigeration systems by 2035, the first such commitment for a major U.S. supermarket chain.
In a press release announcing the policy, the company said that, starting this year, it will begin purchasing “environmentally friendly refrigerants” for new and remodeled stores and will replace refrigerants in existing stores with those with a low GWP. ALDI US said its purchasing strategy will include both CO2 and propane (R290) and that the choice of refrigerant at the store level will incorporate regional climate considerations.
CEO Jason Hart, who penned a letter accompanying the announcement, said more than 600 ALDI US stores use environmentally friendly refrigerants, saving the company nearly 60% of potential carbon emissions per year.
“Environmentally friendly refrigeration systems help keep our products fresh while limiting our impact on the planet,” Hart wrote.
An industry leader
ALDI US has more than 2,300 stores in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Amber Hardy, Director of Facilities, Systems and Sustainability at ALDI US, said in an October 2023 interview with R744.com that the company is installing transcritical CO2 systems in 70 to 100 new and remodeled stores annually. In that interview, Hardy also noted that ALDI US has about 618 stores that use a transcritical CO2 system, more than any other U.S. chain, and about 10 others that employ self-contained propane cases throughout the store. In addition, the company’s 25 warehouses all use ammonia (R717) as a natural refrigerant.
Those 628 stores were all certified platinum in 2023 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) GreenChill program, winning the chain the program’s Store Certification Excellence award for a fifth consecutive time. Stores are certified at silver, gold or platinum levels for meeting stringent refrigeration requirements.
“Environmentally friendly refrigeration systems help keep our products fresh while limiting our impact on the planet.”Jason Hart, ALDI US CEO
Hillphoenix, based in Conyers, Georgia, also received a Store Certification Excellence award – for the 11th consecutive year – as the commercial systems manufacturer with the most systems installed in GreenChill Certified Stores in the last year, including many ALDI US stores.
In addition to the stores it owns and operates under the ALDI brand, the company added approximately 400 stores to its portfolio in August 2023 with its acquisition of Winn-Dixie and Harveys Supermarket. In a press release, the company said some of those stores, which are located in the Southeastern United States, will convert to the ALDI format, while others will operate under their existing brands. ATMOsphere has reached out to ALDI US about whether the stores that continue to operate under the Winn Dixie and Harvey Supermarkets brands will also transition fully to using natural refrigerants.
Along with the transition to natural refrigerants, ALDI US also announced it met its goal of removing all plastic bags from stores by the end of 2023, a move it estimates will remove nearly 9 million lbs (4.1 million kg) of plastic from circulation annually.