Welcome to The Grocery Trader’s Fridges & Chillers feature. Refrigeration in retail has never been a hotter topic. The cold details about fridges and chillers are well known: supermarkets consume around five percent of the UK’s total energy consumption. And over half that energy is used by the store’s refrigeration system. It’s all the more reason then for stores’ refrigeration experts to focus on achieving the maximum energy efficiencies.
The coolants in fridges and freezers are something else that get environmentalists hot under the collar. Chemicals leaking from fridges account for 30% of supermarkets’ direct emissions, yet according to green campaigning group the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), only 0.5% of stores have been fitted with greener equipment.
Released in February, the EIA’s Chilling Facts survey asked supermarkets about the global warming impacts of their refrigeration. The Report reveals that only 2 percent of all major UK supermarkets are using HFC-free refrigeration systems, despite awareness of the enormous environmental damage caused by HFCs. Originally introduced to replace ozone-depleting CFCs, HFCs have a global warming impact 3,800 times greater than CO2.
The supermarkets’ sheer mass makes them an easy target for pressure groups. But the supermarkets themselves are now saying in public that they’re changing their approach to cooling, and doing so at a rapid rate. All the big firms are announcing commitments to reduce their carbon footprints and increase energy efficiency. It’s a matter of corporate prestige to reveal ever more ambitious targets for moving to natural refrigerants. The refrigeration rethink adds up to a major challenge for the supply chain, in which every party needs to meet the demands for higher engineering standards in refrigeration and better availability of equipment. At the same time it presents those refrigeration manufacturers who can measure up with a wonderful opportunity.
Helping to make sense of all the refrigeration complexities is the British Refrigeration Association (B.R.A.), the only trade association representing manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, distributors, contractors, specifiers and end-users of refrigeration plant, equipment and components. It also includes producers of refrigerants and lubricants, colleges and training establishments.