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Refrigeration has been an important focus area for our sustainability work ever since our Sustainability Pillar was created in 2009. The 2010 Refrigeration Resolution was a global first and an important indication of our commitment, specifying the need to begin replacing HFC refrigeration systems from 2015 onwards. Our members recognised the major and increasing contribution to total greenhouse gas emissions from HFCs and derivative chemical refrigerants and took action.

Roll on to 2016 and I am happy with the progress we’ve made. Our members have been at the forefront of piloting natural and low-carbon refrigerants around the world, several of which can be seen in the newly-published Refrigeration Booklet. Our members have replaced systems in over 4,000 supermarkets, four million ice cream and drinks chiller units worldwide and industrial plants with the majority being natural refrigerants. Be it Heineken’s SmartDispense system that reduces a pub’s average energy use for cooling installations by 90% or Sobey’s trials comparing a natural refrigerant system to a traditional HFC system, which led to a 62% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. We really don’t need to look far for leadership in this area. 
 
Of course, there have been a number of challenges too. From looking at how different systems work in different climates, the financial implications and relevant operational issues, our members have had to work with each other and with other stakeholders – governments, technology suppliers and regional associations – to get to where we are today. This has helped us to discuss the barriers and solutions to a faster and geographically wider uptake of natural and low-carbon refrigeration systems; help those that haven’t yet explored or invested in these refrigeration systems to realise the benefits of doing so; and give suppliers confidence that the sector is interested in this technology.  
 
For example, we’ve been working with the Australian Refrigeration Association, who has been very supportive of our work. There are about 1.2 million commercial and industrial refrigeration installations in Australia, and the ARA sees the shift away from HFC installations as vital. We hope we can continue to support them moving forward.
 
However, while the last five years have been an extremely important exercise for our industry, we know more still needs to be done. The CGF is not a measurement body, nor are we a lobbying organisation. We work with our members to share best practices, promote the right path forward and provide opportunities for our members to learn from each other. As the only organisation bringing retailers and manufacturers together globally, we have a genuinely unique role to play, and we have to give credit to those members who have being leading the way.
 
Our member-led working groups will continue to be active and show global leadership in the uptake of natural refrigerants. And, collectively, we will continue to develop next steps to strengthen our commitment beyond the original resolution to develop the next phase of the refrigeration market’s transformation.
 
If you want to learn more about our work on refrigeration or to join our refrigeration working group and help direct the future path that we take, feel free to connect with me.

This post was written and contributed by:

Ignacio Gavilan
Director, Environmental Sustainability
The Consumer Goods Forum