Coca-Cola, McDonald's & Unilever to Phase Out Greenhouse Gases

Greenpeace calls on governments and other companies to join the Cool Coalition

Feature story - June 22, 2004
McDonald's and Unilever, promised today to phase out the powerful greenhouse gases hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from their refrigeration equipment, 11 years after Greenpeace showed the world that the future of cooling could be climate-friendly.

These three leading food and soft drinks companies presented their program for the beginning of the end of HFC's at a joint press conference held today in Brussels. Greenpeace and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) support the initiative.

"Greenpeace welcomes the commitments made by Unilever, Coca-Cola and McDonald's. We call on their competitors, such as Nestle, Pepsi and Burger King, to follow suit," said Gerd Leipold, Executive Director of Greenpeace International. "But corporate action is only half the picture. For a complete solution, governments must act. Politicians can't sit back and wait for the market to deliver, because on its own, it won't."

As of 2005, Unilever Ice- Cream will purchase only HFC-free ice-cream cabinets. Already, some 14,000 units have been replaced. Coca-Cola will convert millions of vending machines around the world to non-HFC refrigerants. McDonald's will make changes in some 30,000 restaurants, converting its 11 types of refrigeration units - including air-conditioning, walk-in-freezers, salad and drinks coolers - to alternative refrigerants.

In 1993, Greenpeace proved HFCs were unnecessary for refrigeration, when it developed and marketed Greenfreeze, the world's first CFC- and HFC-free refrigerator. Greenfreeze revolutionized the technology and became an industry standard in domestic refrigeration.

Behind all three companies stand major technology suppliers, which have made these technologies available thanks to multi-million-dollar investments. As the companies presented their phase- out strategies the suppliers presented their technologies, based on natural hydrocarbons, CO2 and Stirling.

"But three companies are not going to prevent climate change. At expected rates of usage, by 2050 HFCs will contribute as much to global warming as all the private cars on the planet today," concluded Leipold.

Notes to Editors: HFCs are far more potent for global warming than the best-known greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. They were introduced by the chemical industry 15 years ago, around the time CFCs started to be regulated under the Montreal Protocol.

Greenpeace developed the Greenfreeze technology together with the East German company FORON, having opposed the introduction of HFCs from the start. Now an industry standard in Europe, China, Japan, Latin America and Australia, it has sold some 120 million models. Outside the U.S., Greenfreeze established itself as the leading technology for domestic fridges.

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