In the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual environmental progress report, ‘A Better Retailing Climate’, retailers are assessed as having cut total emissions to air from escaped refrigeration gases were cut by 52% relative to floor space between 2005 and 2012. Greenhouse gases emitted by the UK’s commercial refrigeration industry are estimated to contribute between 15% and 30% of grocery retailers total carbon footprint. The industry has committed to cut its emissions from refrigeration by half (relative to floor space to allow for business growth) by 2013. In the new report the retail industry is shown to be going above and beyond its commitment to reducing its environmental impact across all aspects of its operation by cutting its total emissions to air by 52% relative to floor space from 2005 – 2012, an absolute reduction of 33%. The report commended the industry as a whole saying “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”. In particular the report praises a number of the different approaches being employed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from commercial refrigeration, including:

  • 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.

However the BRC also warn that ‘financial and technical barriers’ continue to 'frustrate faster progress' and say the UK Government needs to support the transition to natural refrigeration systems and non-HFC products. In order to remedy this, the BRC suggest, the government needs to support a phased approach to the reduction of HFCs in refrigeration and to address the skills and knowledge barriers which are present are helping to slow the transition to natural refrigeration systems and non HFC products.