Net zero coldchain gets funding boost

London, UK: Research into a achieving a more sustainable coolchain for food has been boosted with £1.4m of UK Research and Innovation funding to produce a “roadmap” for how the UK’s cold food chain industry can curb its emissions.

The University of Birmingham is leading the four-year project, which aims to set out the ways the cold food chain can align with the UK’s climate goals while remaining competitive.

Academics from Heriot-Watt University, London South Bank University, and Cranfield University are also involved in the government-backed project.

Toby Peters, professor of cold economy at the University of Birmingham, who is leading the Zero Emission Cold Chain project said: “Our project is about thinking thermally and analysing engineering, energy resources, food quality and safety, finance and business aspects to crack the conundrum of sustainable decarbonisation of cooling and the cold chain.”

The researchers aim to improving equipment and operational efficiency, shifting towards more sustainable technology, reducing the need for cooling, and developing synergies within the cold chain to integrate different cooling demands into a single system.

“Our project is about thinking thermally and analysing engineering, energy resources, food quality and safety, finance and business aspects to crack the conundrum of sustainable decarbonisation of cooling and the cold-chain,” Peters said.

“We’re bringing together world-leading researchers, industry, technology innovators and customers such as farmers and retailers to look at the whole system and map the opportunities and challenges to ensuring that the chain can support UK-wide Net Zero goals and decarbonise while also meeting demand and being resilient.”

Professor Toby Peters, University of Birmingham: “Our project is about thinking thermally and analysing engineering, energy resources, food quality and safety, finance and business aspects to crack the conundrum of sustainable decarbonisation of cooling and the cold chain.”

Peters said the food cold chain is complex and lacks integration between sectors. Technological challenges exist, but many decarbonisation issues are techno-economic or behavioural. The project provides fresh analysis in a field yet to be researched from a system approach, also targeting food loss in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations.

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