Do you buy organic sweet potato chips and reasonably priced imported cheeses at Trader Joe's, the alt grocery chain that radiates good vibes with frozen mini wontons, Hawaiian shirt uniforms, and two-dollar wine? That's awesome, and here's good news to keep the chill times rolling: Today, Trader Joe's has agreed to spend $2 million to fix up its refrigerators to settle a federal suit that claimed TJ's refrigerator leaks have been contributing to the depletion of the ozone.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department claimed that Trader Joe's refrigerators leaked R-22, a refrigerator coolant that burns through the ozone and contributes to global warming at a rate 1,800 times that of carbon dioxide. According to Reuters, the feds said that Trader Joe's didn't fix leaks quickly enough and didn't keep adequate service records—a big-time freezer foul. Trader Joe's will have to pay a $500,000 fine on top of the $2 million in repairs as part of a settlement, which did not require Trader Joe's to admit liability.
But when everything's said and done, Trader Joe's will have some shiny, efficient refrigerators. The company has committed to cutting its "average leak rate" to less than half the industry standard at its 461 stores in the next three years, and eventually the cuts would be the equivalent of taking more than 6,500 cars off the road every year.
Though Costco and Safeway have both settled cases related to the efficiency of their refrigerators before, Trader Joe's case is the first time the EPA has required a company to repair its leaks for reasons relating to global warming.
The new limits "set a high bar for the grocery industry for detecting and fixing coolant leaks," an EPA official, Cynthia Giles, said.
"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," Trader Joe's spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki told Reuters.
One thing not refrigerated at TJ's is two-buck Chuck, but maybe when you get your $24 case of wine home you should change that by dumping it in a slushie machine. Just make sure your machine isn't leaking any weird coolants—that stuff is probably poison.