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Supermarkets continue move away from HFCs


UK: Supermarkets across Europe are on the cusp of a revolutionary move away from HFCs, according to the latest annual Chilling Facts report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

According to the environmental group, the Swiss supermarkets are performing particularly well in terms of rolling out natural refrigeration systems but British retailers are still leading the way in both developing and rolling out HFC-free technologies. A core group is singled out for praise in making particularly impressive efforts to reduce the impact of refrigeration systems, including Coop Schweiz, Coop UK, Marks & Spencer, Migros, Royal Ahold, Aldi Süd, Tesco and Waitrose.

The number of UK stores using HFC-free or hybrid refrigeration systems has grown by 24% on last year, bringing the total number of systems to 428.

The number of hybrid refrigeration systems across Europe has risen to 589, while, according to the EIA, over 1,000 additional stores are using HFC-free technology. This does not include the thousands of stores using frozen food integrals running on hydrocarbons.

Although many supermarkets are already using hydrocarbons in their freezer units, they are not yet using non-fluorinated alternatives in their chilled food integrals, citing a need for further technical developments in this area.

Royal Ahold has increased the number of hybrid HFC/CO2 stores it operates by about 30%, reaching a total of well over 200 stores in The Netherlands and Belgium – representing a quarter of its estate. This is mirrored by Coop Schweiz which has also increased the number of its stores running on CO2 systems by around 30%, again reaching about 200 stores in total, or a quarter of its entire estate.

Waitrose now has around a third of its stores running on natural refrigerants as it chases a target of being HFC-free by 2021. Marks & Spencer continues to roll out hybrid systems, increasing the number of stores running on this technology to 76 (up from 42 last year), as well as developing various other systems which use ammonia, hydrocarbons or CO2.

Delhaize Group almost reached its stated target for 2012, which was to roll out a further 15 stores using hybrid technology, reaching a total of 40.

In other stores, Coop UK now has hydrocarbon freezer and fridge integrals in over 2,400 stores – almost 20% of total refrigeration used – with a target of full conversion out of HFCs by 2030. The company is also developing hydrocarbon-based secondary refrigeration which is expected to be their primary future technology.

Lidl has increased its HFC-free freezer cabinets by over 20%, bringing the total number to around 9,000.

The full report is available here

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