British retailers cut gas leaks

London, UK: The British Retail Consortium’s annual environmental progress report A Better Retailing Climate, shows emissions to air from escaped refrigeration gases were cut by 52% relative to floor space between 2005 and 2012.

But the report 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 emissions from the UK’s commercial refrigeration sector are estimated to contribute 15 to 30% of grocery retailers’ total carbon footprint. According to the report 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,” says Alice Ellison, environment policy adviser,  British Retail Consortium.

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.

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 recommends 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.

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