Helping you through the refrigeration maze

Mike Lawrence, President, British Refrigeration Association spoke to The Grocery Trader recently.

indexThe Grocery Trader – What is the role of the British Refrigeration Association?

The British Refrigeration Association (BRA) is concerned with refrigeration plant, equipment and components. It is the only trade association which represents manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, distributors, contractors, specifiers and end-users for these products. The Association’s membership also includes producers of refrigerants and lubricants, colleges and training establishments.

This makes BRA a unique network of those who produce, install and use refrigeration equipment. Its role is to provide a discussion forum for our industry, offer technical guidance and advice and to communicate with other groups in similar sectors to ours.

The Grocery Trader – How does it help supermarkets, Co-ops and convenience store chains meet their environmental responsibilities regarding their fridges, chillers and cold stores?

BRA works closely with government, public bodies and other organisations to further the interests of the refrigeration industry. By engaging with regulation-makers, even at European level, BRA is able to speak for the entire sector when it comes to ensuring regulations are reasonable and achievable while also being better for the environment.

One of the other important ways in which the BRA helps the wider refrigeration sector is by providing free guidance on regulations and laws impacting on the businesses operating in it. With the growing body of legislation now in force regarding refrigerants, it’s a challenge to stay ahead of what’s coming up in the future. BRA’s documents help to clarify what the current laws are, and also to provide insight into what is coming up in the future.

The Grocery Trader – What are the main concerns that UK supermarkets and other multiple grocers need to address regarding their refrigeration systems?

There are a number of important concerns for those involved in using refrigerants, most of which current arise from the F Gas Regulation. Under this rule which came into force in January 2015, HFC refrigerants will be controlled by either cap and phase down; or with complete bans.

The Grocery Trader – How successfully are they addressing them?

Large supermarket chains are likely to have specialists dealing with F Gas issues; smaller stores may be less likely to have someone dedicated to dealing with its effects. Members of BRA have been aware of F Gas for some time and so have been preparing for its impact. If anyone in the retail sector has not yet started considering the implications for their business, now is the time to start.

The Grocery Trader – What changes in regulation do these retailers need to be aware of, in this area?

The particular refrigerants being targeted at this stage are R404A and R507. BRA predicts that by 2018 R404A will become more scarce and therefore more expensive. Given the large number of R404A systems in the market, it will be impossible to replace or retrofit all of them before 2020, so the use of reclaimed or recycled R404A will become vital in meeting the consequences of the F Gas regulation.

It will be important to speak with your refrigeration service providers to ensure you can put a plan in place for dealing with changes to refrigerants. BRA has a list of immediate actions that it is currently recommending:

• It is recommended that new systems are installed with alternative refrigerants to R404A where possible.

• For new systems make use of the lowest possible GWP.

• For existing systems, consider retrofitting to one of the lower GWP alternatives now widely available.

• Reduce leakage in existing systems to an absolute minimum.

• Ensure any R404A removed from the system is recovered for further use.

BRA is offering a free guide called ‘Putting into use replacement refrigerants’ which clarifies the F Gas rules and timings for retailers. It is downloadable from bra/publications