Costco will cut its greenhouse gas refrigerant emissions at more than half its stores, costing the company about $2 million over the next three years, as part of a settlement with the federal government.
The EPA says Costco violated the federal Clean Air Act by failing to repair leaks of the refrigerant R-22, a hydrochlorofluorocarbon and ozone-depleting substance, between 2004 and 2007. R-22 is also a potent greenhouse gas with 1,700 times more global warming potential than CO2.
Under the settlement, Costco will implement a refrigerant management system to prevent and repair coolant leaks and reduce its corporate-wide average leak rate by one-fifth (from 24 percent in 2011 to 19 percent or less by 2017). Costco will install and operate environmentally friendly glycol secondary loop refrigeration systems and centrally monitored refrigerant leak detection systems at all new stores for three years.
As required by the settlement, Costco will retrofit commercial refrigeration equipment at 30 stores, reducing ozone-depleting and greenhouse gas emissions.
The EPA expects the measures required of Costco by the settlement to prevent more than 105,000 pounds of future releases of ozone-depleting refrigerants and reduce Costco’s greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of about 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
Corporate commitments to reduce emissions from refrigeration systems have been increasing in recent years. The EPA’s GreenChill Partnership Program works with food retailers to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their impact on the ozone layer and climate change by transitioning to environmentally friendlier refrigerants, using less refrigerant and eliminating leaks, and adopting green refrigeration technologies and best environmental practices.