July 6, 2010

Greenpeace praised General Electric today for its announcement of plans to introduce the first climate-friendly consumer refrigerator to the United States. The refrigerator employs Greenpeace-designed “Greenfreeze” technology that eliminates the use of HFC’s, highly potent greenhouse gases that, pound for pound, have at least 1,400 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.

General Electric has applied to the US Environmental Protection Agency for permission to sell the climate friendly refrigerator in the United States. For several years, Greenpeace has conducted a high-level dialogue with leading appliance manufacturers, including GE, to encourage them to bring Greenfreeze refrigerators to the United States.

“This climate-friendly refrigerator will keep Americans’ food and drink as cold as ever, but it’s also going to help cool our planet,” said John Passacantando, Greenpeace Executive Director. “With hurricanes intensifying, sea levels rising, and polar bears going extinct, we need to make sure that what chills our food isn’t also melting the ice caps.”

HFCs and related “F-gases” are cumulatively responsible for 17 percent of the global warming pollution currently in the atmosphere. Ironically, the chemical industry introduced HFCs as an “environmental alternative” to ozone-destroying chemicals like Freon even though scientists warned that HFCs would still cause global warming. To solve this problem, Greenpeace engineers in 1992 developed a new climate-friendly refrigeration technology known as “Greenfreeze” and gave it away to any company that wanted it.   In 1997, the United Nations awarded Greenpeace its Ozone Protection Award for this work.

Greenfreeze refrigerators are sold worldwide (except in North America) by major corporations including Haier, Whirlpool, Bosch, Panasonic, LG, Samsung, Miele, Electrolux and Siemens.  An estimated 300 million Greenfreeze refrigerators are now in use, which has eliminated the use of 43,000 pounds of HFCs - equivalent to a reduction of about 61 million tons of carbon dioxide or the annual pollution from approximately 10 million cars.

However, until earlier this year, red tape and industry lobbyists have prevented Greenfreeze from being introduced in the United States. This September, Ben & Jerry’s, working with Greenpeace, launched a pilot program through an EPA permit to test 2,000 of their Greenfreeze freezers in ice cream scoop shops and stores in the United States.

“HFCs and other F-gases are the worst greenhouse gases you’ve never heard of,” said Greenpeace Solutions Director, Amy Larkin. “We look forward to working with GE and other refrigerator manufacturers to make sure climate-friendly refrigeration becomes universal in the United States as quickly as possible.”


For more information:

VVPR info: CONTACT: Glenn Hurowitz, Greenpeace Media Director, 202-552-1828; Daniel Kessler, Greenpeace Press Officer, 970.690.2728

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