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I for one am extremely excited by the opportunity we have in front of us. Using the collaborative platform provided by The Consumer Goods Forum, we are able to discuss with other retailers and manufacturers the best way to move forward with industry-wide solutions to move to natural refrigerants.

HFCs and the Need for Natural Refrigerants

Currently, HFCs represent 1.5% of total global warming potential today and are expected to increase to 9-19% of total greenhouse gases by 2050 unless action is taken. From a retail perspective, refrigeration makes a significant contribution of our carbon footprint, totaling 13 – 30% for the majority of retailers. With refrigerants heavily used by the industry, it’s clear that we have an important role to play in where the industry moves forward in this area. The 3rd Refrigeration Summit will showcase that viable natural refrigerant technologies (using ammonia or CO2, for example) already exist. And, although significant progress has been made moving to these technologies, we want to do more.

Here at Royal Ahold, for example, we have almost 200 hybrid CO2 systems in the Netherlands, where we use CO2 for freezing and R134a for cooling and we are piloting complete CO2 systems. Is it enough? Do we want to do more? Simply put, of course we do. As part of the CGF commitment made at the end of 2010, we have a responsibility to address this issue and to drive change. We want to see a wider uptake of natural refrigeration systems throughout the industry.  Our pilot projects are producing very promising results and should lead to a wider rollout of complete CO2 systems.

Drive Change; Take Action

To help point the way, the CGF has highlighted five easy steps for those companies interested in working towards meeting the 2015 target set in the CGF’s refrigeration resolution:

  • Make a public commitment to phase out HFC refrigerants in new installations from 2015;
  • Start piloting solutions for new installations with natural refrigerants now;
  • Measure existing footprint and share best practices on natural refrigerant pilots;
  • Publicly communicate about progress (for example total charge of refrigeration, % leakage per year, % of natural refrigerant, number of new installations using natural refrigerant); and
  • Contribute voluntarily to a set of case studies to raise awareness.

All-in-all, progress is definitely being made, but we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. We should see this as the perfect time to drive change and encourage a wider uptake of natural refrigeration systems. We hope the upcoming summit will show retailers that haven’t yet explored or invested in natural refrigeration systems the benefits of doing so, and that it is a viable technology, including through a tour of systems working in stores. We also hope suppliers will see that the retail sector is interested in this technology, to help drive a strong global and competitive supply base.

Of course, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts too!

Best,

Emma Coles
Vice President Responsible Retailing
Royal Ahold