LONDON: Leading High Street retailers are being urged to do their bit for the climate by closing the door on open refrigerated display units.
In its new report The Chilling Facts VI, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals that the take-up of climate-friendly refrigeration by supermarket chains is spreading faster and more widely than ever.
But the campaigning organisation is concerned that major retailers are missing an easy climate win - and the chance to significantly lower their energy bills - by shying away from fitting doors on refrigeration units.
EIA Senior Climate Campaigner and lead author Fionnuala Walravens said: “Retailer feedback shows that adding doors can result in energy savings of about 33 per cent. Those companies reluctant to make the move claim doors would significantly reduce impulse buying but the evidence from retailers who have introduced doors refutes this - in fact, there’s even testimony that having doors in place reduces shoplifting!
“Refrigeration units with doors mean customers don’t have to scurry uncomfortably along aisles in near-Arctic conditions and, as they require much smaller quantities of refrigerant, they are easier and safer to run on natural refrigerants.”
EIA is the leading NGO working directly to eradicate climate-harmful refrigerants such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a group of super greenhouse gases hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide which are widely used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, fire protection, aerosols and foams.
It released the first of its Chilling Facts reports in 2009 as part of a rolling campaign to encourage retailers to ditch HFC-based refrigeration systems in favour of ‘natural’ alternatives, quizzing and ranking leading UK supermarkets on their progress.
Six years later, the annual Chilling Facts survey has broadened to encompass key European retailers and in The Chilling Facts VI it has extended into South Africa.
In the past two years, the number of stores in the UK and Europe using natural refrigerants has risen from 730 to 1,889 among surveyed retailers.
The new 2014 survey saw several new recipients of EIA’s ‘Green Cooling Leaders’ award to retailers showing real commitment to HFC-free refrigeration, both in domestic and international stores. Current holders are Aldi Süd (Germany), Carrefour (France), Co-op Schweiz (Switzerland), The Co-operative (UK), Makro (South Africa), Migros (Switzerland), Tesco (UK), Waitrose (UK) and Woolworths Holdings Ltd (South Africa).
Walravens added: “In the relatively short time since The Chilling Facts reports began, we’ve been delighted to see so many leading retailers take some gigantic steps towards reducing their use of HFCs and turning to climate-friendly cooling technologies. Closing the doors on fridges is the obvious next step, as energy from refrigeration accounts for about 25 per cent of their carbon footprint.
“The time is now ripe for governments to intervene to ensure the entire supermarket sector follows suit - the issue is just too important and the stakes too high to leave it to voluntary measures.”