Green America, a nonprofit environmental group based in Washington, D.C., is recruiting consumers to voluntarily take photos of refrigerant labels at Trade Joe’s stores in the U.S. in order to document the retailers’ use of HFC gases.

The group is working with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), which rates the efforts of U.S. supermarkets to use climate-friendly refrigeration at its Climate-Friendly Supermarket Scorecard website. Trader Joe’s has the lowest rating on the website.

The crowdsourcing campaign urges shoppers to snap photos of refrigerant labels with their mobile phones and send them to EIA.

Last December, Green America and EIA publicly urged Trader Joe’s to phase out HFCs from all its locations by 2030 and to use only ultra-low GWP refrigerants in new builds and retrofits, as well as issue annual sustainability reports detailing progress, among other refrigerant management actions.

“Trader Joe’s has a particularly bad history of emitting refrigerant gases that hurt the climate and the ozone, and the company doesn’t follow best practices in reporting its current refrigerant use,” Green America says on its website.

In 2016, Trader Joe’s settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice for violating the Clean Air Act by leaking refrigerants. “But there’s no sign that Trader Joe’s has made progress to reduce leak rates or adopt sustainable, climate-friendly refrigerants,” adds Green America.

As part of its settlement, Trader Joe’s agreed to cut its refrigerant leaks and use non-ozone-depleting refrigerants at all new stores and remodels, with at least 15 of the stores employing “advanced refrigerants” such as CO2.

Trader Joe’s did not respond to a request for comment.

Green America and EIA have also targeted Walmart for its refrigeration practices; this included a successful campaign urging Walmart shareholders to support a proposal calling on the company to accelerate its plans to reduce refrigerants released from its operations, in particular HFCs.

“[Trader Joe’s] doesn’t follow best practices in reporting its current refrigerant use.”

Green America

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