Trader Joe’s will allocate $2 million in funds to reduce the incidences of leaking hydrofluorocarbon, the environmentally disruptive refrigerator coolant. As well, the chain has also agreed to pay a $500,000 civil fine over violating the Environmental Protect Agency’s Clean Air Act as a result of the leaky refrigerators at its 461 grocery stores in 43 states.
"Trader Joe's looks forward to working with the EPA in its mission to reduce air pollution and protect the ozone layer, and, with this agreement, has committed to reducing its emissions to a rate that matches the best of the industry," spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki said in a statement.
The U.S. Department of Justice and EPA said Trader Joe’s failed to repair the leaks in a timely fashion and failed to keep proper paperwork on refrigerator and freezer repairs.
What we saw here was bad management,” John Cruden, the government’s top environmental lawyer, told the Los Angeles Times. “They are going to have to do better record keeping, a lot better than what they had been doing, and a system to do it nationally.”
Despite its violations, the trendy grocery store chain is set to make history once the fixes are implemented, as Trader Joe’s’ properly functioning refrigerators will reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to removing more than 6,500 cars from the road.
Previously settled cases over EPA Clean Air Act violations involve supermarket chains Costco Wholesale Corp and Safeway Inc, but this is the first accord where hydrofluorocarbon leaks are being repaired to protect the ozone layer and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“This settlement will assist our efforts to control these two major environmental problems,” Cruden said.
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Trader Joe's image via Shutterstock