Trader Joe's has reached a very expensive settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency after being accused of violating the Clean Air Act.
According to a news release from the EPA this week, the grocery store failed to repair leaks and keep adequate records for its refrigeration equipment at certain locations, and will now have to pay up. The company will pay a $500,000 civil penalty to the US government, and plans to spend an additional $2 million over the course of the next three years to reduce coolant leaks and "improve company-wide compliance."
The settlement is expected to reduce Trader Joe's greenhouse gas emissions drastically, totaling the yearly equivalent of 6,500 passenger vehicles, burning 33 million pounds of coal, or the carbon from 25,000 acres of forests.
“By reducing the amount of ozone depleting refrigerants and potent greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere, this settlement will assist our efforts to control these two major global environmental problems,” John C. Cruden, the assistant attorney general of the Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in the press release. “The consent decree will also help assure Trader Joe’s future compliance with the Clean Air Act, by requiring heightened auditing, leak monitoring, centralized computer recordkeeping, and searchable electronic reporting to EPA.”
Trader Joe's—which operates 461 stores in the United States and pulls in billions of dollars in revenue each year—is no stranger to lawsuits. They've been sued for running a peanut butter pretzel monopoly, for age discrimination, for infringing on a trademark of Milano cookies, and, most recently, for allegedly underfilling cans of tuna fish.
It hasn't been a great week to be in the grocery business. On Thursday, Whole Foods issued a recall of raw macadamia nuts over salmonella concerns, and also pulled Bolthouse Farm's products from its shelves because the protein beverages might have spoiled. Just days before, Whole Foods had also issued a recall for pesto pasta salad, which had possibly been contaminated with listeria.