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26 June 2017

UK Retailers Warned of Refrigerant Woes as HFC Supplies Slashed and Prices Surge Upward

As the push to find and make use of climate-friendly alternatives to the commonly used HFC-based refrigerants utilised across various industries continues, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has warned UK retailers that due to drastic cuts in supplies in the near future, those who are yet to make the switch will take a heavy hit to their finances.

The announcement was made in the EIA’s recent publication titled Chilling Facts VII. The report looked into European retailers’ adoption rate of low-GWP refrigeration technology, evaluating preparedness for the F-gas regulation and progress in moving away from HFCs with the help of data submitted by 22 retailers across 37 countries in 2015. With HFC supplies expected to be cut by around 48% next year, the research comes at an important time for both the planet and the economy.

Eight retailers came out on top in the report, being named by the EIA as Green Cooling Leaders. Specifically, the top eight consists of Albert Heijn, Aldi Süd, Carrefour, Kaufland, Metro Cash & Carry, Migros, Tesco and Waitrose. In fact, we reported on Tesco’s ongoing efforts in this regard not too long ago
Retailers including Marks & Spencer, Jerónimo Martins, Real, Rewe Germany, and Sonae make up the middle of the pack, while Aldi Nord, Delhaize Belgium, Spanish retailer Dia, Auchan Portugal, and Irish retailer Musgrave perform comparatively poorly at the bottom of the table.

Clare Perry, head of the EIA’s climate campaign, commented on the results of the report, “European retailers stand out as global leaders in the adoption of HFC-free commercial refrigeration but, despite well-established and efficient HFC-free alternatives, the uptake across Europe is far short of the pace needed to meet the EU’s fast-acting HFC phase-down.

“In addition, there’s the very real concern that HFC shortages will not only result in soaring refrigerant bills but that ongoing heavy demand from retailers may actually drive illegal trade in HFCs, something we witnessed when HCFCs were banned.”

According to the report, in order to meet the HFC phase-down schedule for which companies should be aiming there should have been around 9,500 medium temperature low-GWP refrigeration systems installed in 2015, as well as a further 9,000 low-temperature systems. Retailers fell well short of this mark, and a substantial increase in the adoption rate of more climate-friendly alternatives is now a matter of urgency.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.