The case of F-gases is unlike some environmental problems. In this case, we know exactly what the source is and we have alternatives ready to go without extra research and development.
F-gases could become an example of how countries can work together to eliminate a serious environmental pollutant very quickly.
Greenpeace is working on commercial solutions with a consortium of global companies to change the world's refrigeration and cooling. Our efforts have resulted in surprising alliance. We are supporters of a coalition called Refrigerants Naturally!
In 2004, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Unilever launched the Refrigerants Naturally! Initiative. In 2006, PepsiCo, Carlsberg and IKEA also joined the initiative. Supported by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Greenpeace. The main objective was phasing-out the use of HFCs in their point of sale cooling equipment.
At the moment Coca-Cola, Pepsico and Unilever's efforts to phase out harmful fluorinated gases on their new in-store refrigerators and freezers have placed them as the top of the class. This shows that corporations can take practical and business-minded steps towards reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating the use of F-gases.
We hope that the efforts of these three corporations will expand worldwide and to other applications. Their actions should inspire others to follow.
Recent global developments
In February 2009, Bosch/Siemens brought Greenfreeze technology into Mexico. Their freezer is imported from Greece and sold by Sears. The company has applied for safety and standards compliance and certification and is planning to sell Greenfreeze in US by next spring.
In October 2008, General Electric unveiled plans for the first HFC-free household refrigerator to be built and sold in the U.S. They have submitted the hydrocarbon refrigerant it uses for EPA approval
In September 2008, Ben & Jerry's, the Vermont-based ice cream maker owned by Unilever, announced plans to roll out the US's first HFC-free freezers.
2009 is a crucial year for decisions on these destructive gases. The Chinese government and German car industry are going to make key choices about whether they rely on natural or climate-destroying gases. The biggest decisions will be at the Copenhagen climate talks in December 2009.
Greenfreeze - A commercial and climate-friendly solution
Greenpeace developed an environmentally-friendly domestic refrigerator to highlight the unnecessary switch from gases that destroy the ozone to gases that destroy the climate and to show that can be done right.
We call this technology Greenfreeze and it avoids the use of HCFCs and HFCs. We met two scientists who pointed out how to avoid HFC's altogether. We found an old fridge factory, appealed to our supporters to pre-order enough units to finance a refit, helped build the market and Greenfreeze was born.
Greenfreeze uses hydrocarbons as the blowing agent for the insulation foam and for the refrigerant. Hydrocarbons are ozone friendly, and used in refrigeration have minimal global warming impact. An added bonus of hydrocarbon technology is that is not dependent on patented foaming agents and refrigerants. So the operating costs are lower and the maintenance is easier than with HCFC or HFC technology.
Greenfreeze revolutionized the global domestic refrigeration market. Today there are over 300 million Greenfreeze refrigerators in the world, produced by all the major European, Chinese, Japanese and Indian manufacturers. Nearly 40 percent of global domestic refrigerations uses Greenfreeze. Major European companies, including Bosch/Siemens, Electrolux, Liebherr, Miele, Quelle, Vestfrost, Whirlpool, Bauknecht, Foron, and AEG are marketing Greenfreeze. It is now available in most major markets, with the exception of North America.
Big industry users, most notably PepsiCo and Unilever are also switching over to HFC free technologies.
Greenfreeze is a triumph of "can do" over "can't be done" and an encouraging demonstration that there are workable solutions to climate change.