ALL new Woolworths supermarkets will conform to stringent environmental standards and most old stores will be upgraded after the success of the company’s pioneer "green supermarket" in Rouse Hill, Sydney.
Chronic leaking of potent greenhouse gas from supermarket fridges, as well as high energy consumption, led to the changes, Woolworths has confirmed.
The Natural Refrigerants Transition Board, which has received government funding to examine ways of reducing greenhouse emissions from refrigerants, estimated that leaks from fridges in Woolworths stores nationally would be equivalent to the annual emissions of 240,000 cars.
Other supermarket chains had similar leakage levels, the board said, but these could be greatly reduced by switching gases.
Keeping produce cool accounts for 48 per cent of Woolworths’ total carbon emissions, lighting for 21 per cent and air-conditioning 19 per cent, the company said.
Changes included in new supermarkets will include "cascade" cooling systems for fridges, in which some of the most harmful gases are replaced by the safer carbon dioxide, while better fans and lights would be installed.