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Fridge firm ditches plastic backs

UK: Domestic fridge freezer manufacturer Gorenje has announced that it will adopt aluminium backs on its appliances.

The Slovenian white goods manufacturer has responded to concerns raised by consumer group Which?  that the non-flame-retardant plastic backing used by most fridge freezer manufacturers can exacerbate the spread of fire.

Gorenje is said to have told Which? that the change would be made by the end of March and all existing products would remain on the market through the discretion of retailers and stockists. The new aluminium-backed models would not be subject to a price increase.

Last year Which? joined the London Fire Brigade in denouncing the use of the plastic backing. It described safety standards as “inadequate” and announced it would no longer recommend buying a fridge, freezer or fridge freezer with a non-flame retardant plastic back. Which? wrote to manufacturers urging them to stop using these backings, as they could create a fire risk in people’s homes due to their potential to accelerate the spread of fire.

Welcoming the Gorenje move, Alex Neill, managing director of Which? home products and services, said: “This is a welcome step but it is unacceptable that many big brand manufacturers continue to sell fridges, freezers and fridge freezers that have flammable backing material.

“The Government’s response to date has not met the scale of the challenge and real change is needed – starting with an independent national body with real powers to protect families from further tragic consequences.”

Which? points out that refrigerator fires are rare. Research it carried out in 2015 using government fire data found that only 7% of fires caused by faulty appliances were caused by fridge freezers, fridges or freezers.

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