'Support uptake of natural refrigeration systems', says leading UK trade association

By Janaina Topley Lira, Apr 09, 2013, 17:28 3 minute reading

The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual environmental progress report 'A Better Retailing Climate,' shows that total emissions to air from escaped refrigeration gases were cut by 52% relative to floor space between 2005 and 2012. However, the report also warns that financial and technical barriers continue to 'frustrate faster progress' and calls for the UK Government to support the transition to natural refrigeration systems and non-HFC products.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the UK’s commercial refrigeration sector are estimated to contribute 15 to 30% of grocery retailers’ total carbon footprint. According to ‘A Better Retailing Climate’, retailers are assessed as having 'exceeded the target' with total emissions to air from escaped refrigeration gases cut by 52% relative to floor space between 2005 and 2012. Absolute emissions were reduced by 33%.
“This update demonstrates that the retail industry is going above and beyond in its commitments to reducing its environmental impact across all aspects of its operations. Despite the downturn and other challenges affecting business, retailers are continuing to innovate and collaborate in this space, which delivers real environmental benefits as well as value for their customers,” said British Retail Consortium Environment Policy Adviser Alice Ellison. 
Investing in naturals part of multi-pronged approach to reducing emissions
Overall, retailers’ commitment is to halve emissions from refrigeration by 2013 (relative to floor space to allow for business growth). In addition to highlighting the collaborative ‘Code of Conduct for Carbon Reduction in the Retail Refrigeration Sector’, the BRC report highlights several of the different approaches being used to reduce GHG emissions from refrigeration:
  • Reducing leakage of F-gases;
  • Installing alternative natural refrigeration systems - using gases with a lower global warming potential;
  • Installing night blinds and doors where appropriate;
  • Capturing cold air spillage from open-front refrigeration cases and redistributing it to areas of the store that require cooling;
  • Recycling heat produced from the cooling of refrigeration cases to heat the aisle space.

Government needs to support phased approach to the reduction of HFCs
To address the financial and technical barriers that are slowing a quicker reduction in emissions, the BRC recommends that the British Government support a phased approach to the reduction of HFCs in refrigeration to enable flexibility in delivery.
The BRC also recommend a transition to natural refrigeration systems and non HFC products through addressing the skills and knowledge barriers preventing a more rapid take-up of new technologies.
In the spotlight: natural refrigeration systems by Morrisons and Waitrose 
Given special mention in the previous BRC report are the natural refrigeration installations by retailers Morrsions and Waitrose. For example, Morrisons has established a joint venture, the Natural Refrigerant Technology Centre to test emerging technologies, and introduced a portable refrigeration plant run using natural refrigerants, to be used during refurbishments and new builds. 
Waitrose has achieved emissions reductions of up to 60% by adopting a range of approaches, including the use of natural refrigerants in its low- carbon, propane-based, water-cooled refrigeration systems.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is the trade association for the UK’s retail sector and is the authoritative voice of the industry to policy makers and to the media. 
'A Better Retailing Climate' was set up in 2008, establishing the retail sector’s collective environmental ambitions. The participating 25 retail businesses (comprising 26 retail brands) include, M&S, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and John Lewis. Each year, the British Retail Consortium reports against the commitments set out in the original initiative.


By Janaina Topley Lira

Apr 09, 2013, 17:28

Related stories

Sign up to our Newsletter

Fill in the details below