Natural refrigerants like propane (R290) are a “significant focus” for ALDI U.S., a division of German retail giant ALDI Süd, according to its 2022 sustainability progress report.
ALDI U.S. aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 26% by 2025 and has said that it is “incredibly proud that ALDI stores in the United States use an average of 10 units of self-contained propane per store, and over 99% of stores use at least one self-contained propane case.”
Approximately 10 ALDI U.S. stores are currently using full or hybrid propane systems and nearly 500 of the company’s 2,000 stores use CO2 (R744) as the primary refrigerant. ALDI U.S. also uses ammonia/NH3 (R717) at all 25 of its U.S. warehouses.
“ALDI is incredibly proud that ALDI stores in the United States use an average of 10 units of self-contained propane per store, and over 99% of stores use at least one self-contained propane case.”ALDI U.S.
ALDI U.S. has also said that another 10 stores will transition to R290 by the end of 2022 as part of the company’s plan to transition around 75 stores to “near-zero GWP refrigerants” each year.
These efforts are part of a five-year project, worth more than US$5 billion, to expand its store count and remodel existing ALDI U.S. stores to make them more sustainable. According to the company, transitioning to more environmentally-friendly refrigerants has been a major focus of the remodeling project.
“[In 2021], we set ambitious, science-based sustainability goals to help us accelerate the positive impact we’re already making on our planet’s resources and the people who depend on them,” said Jason Hart, CEO of ALDI U.S. “We take a lot of pride in the progress we’ve made toward these goals, while also maintaining the affordability of our products so you can be more sustainable too,” he added.
In terms of progress, ALDI U.S. says its “transition to natural refrigerants has lowered our potential carbon emissions damage average per store by over 50% since 2015.”
As well as adopting natural refrigerants, ALDI U.S. has reduced its energy consumption by installing energy-efficient HVAC systems and using energy-management controls for real-time monitoring. It also employs heat reclaim from the transcritical CO2 systems for space heating that is incorporated into a store’s air-conditioning system.
These efforts, along with others, have not gone unnoticed. In 2021, Brightly.eco named ALDI U.S. the most sustainable grocery store in a ranking of America’s largest grocery chains. The company has also received recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its efforts to make refrigeration more sustainable, including its transition to natural refrigerants. According to ALDI U.S, it earned more EPA GreenChill store certifications in 2020 and 2021 than all other grocery retailers in the nation combined. This accreditation is awarded to organizations that are working to reduce refrigerant leaks and transition to more environmentally-friendly refrigerants.
“We’re proud of this [Brightly] recognition and to be leading the way, pushing the industry forward on sustainability practices,” said Hart. “Being a leader means we don’t just throw out lofty goals without holding ourselves accountable,” he added.
In a recent letter to ALDI U.S. customers, Hart wrote that “while it is incredible to look back on what we have accomplished in 12 months, what excites me most is our ability to go even further together to ensure that as our business grows, our environmental footprint doesn’t grow with us.”
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