Aldi honored by EPA; details carbon reduction efforts

Marianne Wilson
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Aldi has the most GreenChill certified stores of any other food retail company.

 Aldi remains committed to meeting its aggressive sustainability goals, one of which is focused on reducing its greenhouse gas emissions via environmentally friendly refrigeration.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Environmental Protection Agency's GreenChill program has recognized the fast-growing discount grocer with its Store Certification Excellence Award for having the most GreenChill-certified stores of any other food retail company.   

The EPA also awarded 21 Aldi stores with its “Store Re-Certification Excellence” honors for receiving GreenChill store certifications for five consecutive years. (GreenChill certification is awarded to stores that replace standard commercial refrigerants with environmentally friendlier refrigerants that keep their greenhouse gas emissions as close to zero as possible.)

In the first half of the year, 19 Aldi stores received their first GreenChill certification, with more than 100 more stores planning to apply for their first certifications by the end of 2022. This could bring the total number of certified ALDI stores across the country to nearly 610.

Among Aldi’s newly certified stores was its 500th location to switch over to environmentally friendly refrigerants. The store, located in Mobile, Ala., received the Platinum Certification, the highest level available. The milestone is significant because COrefrigeration systems require high pressure to operate, which is challenging to achieve in warm, humid climates, Aldi noted.

"We share our customers' passion for protecting the environment, so working to reduce our carbon footprint is a major focus for us,” said Dan Gavin, VP of national real estate at Aldi. "We're working to decrease our overall impact on the climate more and more each day, with each step bringing us that much closer to becoming 'real zero,' or completely emissions-free.”

The transition to natural refrigerants has lowered the global warming potential of emissions from Aldi, decreasing the impact the company has made on the climate. That's because a store with regular refrigerated spaces typically leaks about one-quarter of its gases each year, meaning it can emit 875 pounds of harmful hydrofluorocarbons, or industrial chemicals, annually, equivalent to the carbon dioxide produced by around 300 cars.

To receive GreenChill Certification, stores must achieve a store-wide annual HFC refrigerant leak rate of 15% or less, in addition to meeting other certification criteria. This represents at least a 33% reduction in HFC emissions compared to the average supermarket. 

"Aldi continues to lead the industry in GreenChill Store Certifications, with more currently Certified stores than all other grocery retailers in the nation combined," said Kersey Manliclic, EPA GreenChill program manager. "It's an impressive achievement and one that contributes to a cleaner environment for everyone."

Earlier this year, Aldi released its first-ever Corporate Responsibility Progress Report, which outlined progress towards its environmental goals. The company is aiming to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2025.

Carbon Reduction Efforts
In addition to evolving its refrigerants, Aldi is taking the following steps toward a smaller carbon footprint:

  • Installing rooftop solar panels that produce green electricity in 120 stores and 12 distribution centers (with plans to add 60 new stores  and one new distribution center this year);
  • Using environmentally friendly building materials and energy-efficient appliances in new and remodeled stores; and
  • Making green electricity purchases to offset 100% of any energy used that ALDI hasn't produced itself via its on-site solar and wind.

In addition, Aldi is working to reduce its use of plastic and increase the recyclability of its packaging. To date, 62% of Aldi-exclusive packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable. The grocer also plans to eliminate all plastic shopping bags from stores by the end of 2023 and to reduce operational food waste.

"This is just the beginning," added Gavin. "We plan on remaining at the forefront of sustainability and have some promising ideas on how we can keep reducing our environmental impact even further."

With 2,200 stores across 38 states, Aldi is on track to become the third-largest grocery retailer in the U.S. by store count by the end of 2022.

EPA's GreenChill Program is a voluntary partnership with food retailers, system manufacturers and chemical producers to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their impact on the ozone layer and climate change. There are nearly 13,000 GreenChill Partner stores throughout the nation.