SABMillerUK: SABMiller, the world’s second largest brewing company, is to cease to buy HFC fridges after 2020 as part of an effort to halve its carbon footprint. 

Amongst a number of sustainability initiatives to halve its carbon footprint announced today, the London-headquartered brewer said it will seek a 25% reduction in its refrigeration carbon footprint by 2020 and purchase no new HFC-powered fridges after that date.

The brewer, which boasts such week-known brands as Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Pilsner Urquell, Miller Genuine Draft and Grolsch, currently owns around 850,000 trade fridges globally.

In many markets SABMiller is investing in energy-saving devices and LED lighting, which is reducing the energy consumption of older fridges by up to 40%. Its Polish business Kompania Piwowarska has gone a step further, buying 8,000 new hydrocarbon fridges for its retail network last year.

Although under the new F-gas regulations no commercial plug-in fridges and freezers with GWPs over 150 will be able to be sold in Europe after 2022, SABMiller explains that its commitment has a global perspective.

“The commitment not to purchase any new fridges containing HFC by 2020 is based on our global operations, mostly in developing markets,” explained Andre Fourie, SABMiller’s senior manager environmental value.

“Not all markets in Africa, Latin America or Asia have the ability to support the maintenance of HC cooling at the moment and it is essential that HC be maintained by qualified personnel to avoid potential injuries. But we are working on plans to help shape this agenda and to move towards natural refrigerants where technically feasible. We are also engaging our suppliers in this regard.”

More than 75% of new SABMiller fridges in Europe are already operating on hydrocarbon refrigerant and, according to Andre Fourie, the company is currently exploring the feasibility of stepping up this number. “We are also learning from this investment and plan to roll the experience out on a global scale,”  Fourie added.

“The 25% refrigeration emission reduction commitment is based on the total CO2 emissions of cooling our beers and soft drinks across all the markets where we operate. Our calculations showed that more than 90% of the carbon footprint of refrigeration is based on the electricity used to power the fridges. We are therefore prioritising this area: making substantial investments in energy management devices and LED lighting  to reduce the carbon footprint of the refrigeration fleet. We estimate that about 91% of new fridges procured during the last year contain EMDs and LEDs,” he told the Cooling Post.

SABMiller claims to have more beer brands in the world’s top 50 than any other brewer. In the year to March 31, the company sold over 315 million hectolitres of lager, soft drinks and other alcoholic beverages, generating net producer revenues of $26.72bn.