Greenpeace technology successful worldwide for 15 years

Press release - 2008-03-14
Natural refrigerant in Greenfreeze protects ozone layer and climate Hamburg, 14 March. – Greenfreeze, the first refrigerator in the world without harmful CFC and HFC chemicals, is 15 years old. The first appliance rolled off the production line at the DKK Scharfenstein company in Niederschmiedeberg in Saxony on 15 March 1993. Since then 300 million refrigerators have been manufactured applying the Greenfreeze criteria worldwide. Greenpeace used the technology in intensifying its campaign then against CFC chemicals, which destroy the Earth's ozone layer. Greenpeace in addition wanted to stop the spread of HFCs which, despite their devastating effect on the climate, chemical corporations introduced as a substitute refrigerant.

It was discovered that the Glacier No.1 of Tianshan at the Urumqi River Head has melted into water ahead of schedule, shrinking more than 10 meters each year. This is another strong evidence of global warming.

Greenfreeze has in the meantime become successful across the world, with its share of the international market almost 40 per cent. The technology has spared the atmosphere from greenhouse gas emissions of the order of roughly one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide - more than Germany's total annual discharge of CO2.

"We could not have dreamed of such a success," says Wolfgang Lohbeck, the campaign leader at Greenpeace who got Greenfreeze going, "it's a real revolution. We are really pleased at what an effect we've had. But the danger is not over. HFCs continue to advance in other areas. The German government, too, is called on to act. It must bit by bit ban all applications of HFCs."

According to a study by Greenpeace the use of these gases can be expected to double by 2050 if nothing is done. They may by then make up almost ten per cent of the global greenhouse effect - a disastrous development. The effect would be greater than that of all the car traffic in the world today. No climate protection goal could then still be attained.

Greenpeace discovered the technology which appeared to open the way to replacing CFCs and HFCs - refrigerants like propane and butane, and pentane as the insulating gas in insulation materials - at a laboratory at the hygiene institute in Dortmund in 1992. Greenpeace found the ideal partner for putting this into practice in the DKK/Foron company. The first public presentation of Greenfreeze immediately provoked the resistance of established fridge manufacturers, to the point of calls to the trade to boycott it. Only a year later, however, the whole German industry sector had embraced the new technology, and shortly afterwards the whole of Europe was 'Greenfreeze' country. China saw the beginning of its spread globally. Only one country was stubbornly closed to Greenfreeze - the USA. The big US chemical corporations have until today been struggling with the authorities and groups lobbying for the 'German technology' in order to continue to safeguard their market shares at the expense of the climate.

Other sectors have also been turning to the natural refrigerants. With Greenpeace mediating, international companies like McDonald's, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Ikea, Carlsberg and Unilever four years ago joined together to phase out HFCs. In supermarkets and car air-conditioners, too, HFCs are gradually being rejected, although the conflict there has yet to be resolved.


Please direct your enquiries to Wolfgang Lohbeck, mobile phone no. +49 (0)171 878 0823, or Michael Hopf, press officer, tel. + 49 (0)40 30618 345.