The "Refrigerants, Naturally" conference, held in Brussels,
calls on industry players to join Coca-Cola, Unilever and
McDonald's initiative to address an issue that affects every one of
us - climate change. The conference is an important step to
bringing together the food and drink industry, its supply chain,
international organizations and NGOs, to reduce the global
environmental impact of commercial refrigeration. It is the first
time such a group has met on such a scale.
Coca-Cola, Unilever Ice Cream and McDonald's, who between them
operate 12 million coolers and freezers, have been developing with
their suppliers over the last four years, innovative, HFC-free
refrigeration technologies that reduce the global warming impact of
their commercial equipment. HFCs are gases that have strong global
warming potential. According to independent research unveiled at
the event by Greenpeace, if current trends were to continue in the
industry, HFC's contribution to global warming would increase from
1.5 percent today to between 6.2 and 8.6 percent by 2050.(1)
The three companies and their suppliers have developed and are
actively deploying and testing, innovative, HFC-free refrigeration
technologies that reduce global warming as well as energy usage.
The technologies, which are explained and showcased at today's
event, include hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, Stirling,
thermoacoustic and solar cooling. Developments and tests confirm
that these technologies, while at different stages of commercial
availability, are viable, efficient and reliable. Other options
are also being explored.
The companies' research and development efforts are accompanied
with clear commitments to move to an HFC-free, commercially viable
and more energy efficient future. Although technical challenges
and the state of progress differ across the technologies, the
companies have already initiated or are prepared for commercial
roll-out in the imminent future. Whereas technologies like
hydrocarbon and carbon dioxide are already, or will soon be
operating in the marketplace, others need further development and
optimization. Commercial availability of Stirling is likely to be
for the medium term and thermoacoustics for the long term.
Furthermore, Coca-Cola, Unilever and McDonald's are
precipitating change in refrigeration technology buying and
supplier trends, and call upon other businesses within the industry
to join their initiative. The companies depend on refrigeration
manufacturers to supply them with the equipment they need and today
they urge them to share their innovations and to work together to
supply them with the quantities they need in a commercially viable
Greenpeace Executive Director, Gerd Leipold, said:
"Greenpeace welcomes the commitments made by Unilever, Coca Cola
and McDonald's. We call on other companies in their sector to
follow suit. However, corporate action is only half of the
picture. For a complete solution, governments must act.
Politicians cannot sit back and wait for the market to deliver,
because on its own, it will not."
Pieter van Geel, Dutch State Secretary for Housing, Spatial
Planning and the Environment said:
"Sustainable innovation delivers significant economic benefits,
by making more efficient use of materials and energy, and by
generating fewer emissions and less waste. Since the EU does not
have low wages and cheap resources, we have to compete globally by
being innovative. Eco-efficient innovation is good not only for the
environment, but also for economic growth and employment."
Rajendra Shende, Head of Energy and OzonAction Branch, United
Nations Environment Programme said:
"As market leaders in their respective areas, Coca-Cola,
Unilever and McDonald's are taking an important step in addressing
environmental issues by simultaneously protecting the ozone layer
and safeguarding the global climate system in an integrated way.
The future of sustainable refrigeration lies in this type of
forward-looking technology innovation."
Notes: (1) The independent research was conducted by the Oekorecheche Institute, Frankfurt, June 2004 using data provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and UNEP. The Oekorecherche Institute is one of the most acknowledged in the area of CFCs and HFCs.