Sustainability in Food Retail: On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

© Fred Goldstein

Francesco Mastrapasqua, Head of Institutional Affairs at EPTA SPA, outlines what we need to know about sustainability in the food retail sector

The fight against climate change and the choice of the most sustainable future cooling technologies are currently at the center of current international debate in Europe and around the world, since developing countries will soon have access to a cold chain and with adequate air conditioning.

HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) refrigerants in commercial refrigerators, air conditioners and heat pumps are a major contributor to the current climate crisis and now account for 2.5% of total EU GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions . Eliminating the use of HFCs alone would mean a temperature reduction of 0.5°C over the next few decades: a very important contribution to global mitigation efforts.

The history of refrigerants teaches us that each generation of synthetic refrigerants has subsequently been discontinued due to their various hazardous effects on the environment. In this context, only natural refrigerants make it possible to get out of this situation of uncertainty and chemical risks for the environment, a real guarantee for the future.

CO2 refrigeration systems, in particular, have been developed at a high level of industrialization and ensure a better TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) than HFC technologies, while universally guaranteeing a very high level of efficiency, even in the hottest climatic regions of the world. R744/CO2 is a natural, non-toxic and non-flammable refrigerant, with a GWP (Global Warming Potential) of 1, with excellent thermodynamic and heat transfer capabilities and is today the most widely used refrigerant in Europe in new medium to large stores.

CO2 systems

In recent years, major European companies have focused their efforts and investments on the innovation of CO2 systems combining performance, reliability, safety and efficiency with absolute respect for the environment.

One of the latest developments is a new generation of CO2 refrigeration systems by EPTA, a multinational group specializing in commercial refrigeration for retail, food and beverage and Ho.Re.Ca., which enables performance optimized and significant energy savings compared to HFCs in all climatic conditions. , anywhere in the world, all year round. In addition, the technical solution is now finally unique – independent of the climate – industrially multiplied and extremely simple to allow easy use and maintenance and therefore unlimited distribution.

Mechanically, the system (FTE2.0, Full Transcritical Efficiency) works with the same type of components as a standard CO2 system. The efficiency derives from the better use of the “flooded” medium temperature evaporators which increase the evaporation temperature and ensure a considerable reduction in the energy consumption of the cooling rack.

ETE (Extreme Temperature Efficiency) is a CO2 subcooling system operating on the high pressure side, designed to complement FTE2.0 in high or extreme temperature conditions, ensuring optimum performance and energy consumption even in climates hot and tropical (well above 40°C).

The observation of seven pilot stores in the Mediterranean hot zone over more than a full year showed an annual energy saving of up to 23% and the LCA analysis (according to the LCCP standard), a reduction in emissions of CO2 globally up to 20% compared to a standard transcritical CO2 system.

Hundreds of stores around the world, even in hot countries like South America, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Southeast Asia, are adopting these systems with near-zero environmental impact.

F-gas regulation

The F-gas regulation is the main instrument for reducing fluorinated greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and without its impetus, the European market alone would not have evolved at this pace.

As part of the European Green Deal, the EU has raised its climate ambition and committed to reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by here 2050. Following this, the European Commission is currently reviewing all climate-related rules. , including those on fluorinated gases.

The majority of companies in this sector are truly convinced that the new F-Gas regulations that will be published in 2023 are a unique opportunity to accelerate the phase-out of HFCs and pave the way for more widespread use of natural refrigerants. It will certainly shape the future of the entire cooling and heating industry.

The European Commission is called upon this time to align the industry on a long-term sustainable and definitive solution, ultimately not a new intermediate step that will change again after a few years.

With each restriction of GWP, in fact, new synthetic refrigerants (patented chemicals available in limited quantities at very high prices) have been introduced, causing excessive costs for industry and the market and fueling the thriving trade of commerce. illegal HFCs (31 MtCO2e in 2019), driven by high benefits and low risk.

Adoption of HFC-free technologies

Therefore, given Europe’s very high climate ambitions, we encourage the Commission to increase ambition and promote the exclusive adoption of HFC-free technologies, introducing an ultra-low GWP

The greenhouse gas emissions of HFCs are particularly difficult to compress due to the consumption of high-GWP HFCs for servicing existing supermarkets and hypermarkets that constantly disperse tons of their refrigerant charge (up to 15 % each year) into the environment due to their leakage during operation.

For this reason, immediate attention must be paid to measures which, within a reasonable time, restrict the use of HFCs for the maintenance of existing systems whose contribution to global warming weighs much more than new products placed on the market. Replacing an HFC refrigerator with a CO2 equivalent means reducing its direct greenhouse effect up to 4,000 times!

The transition to sustainable technologies such as CO2 refrigeration systems in Europe will boost economic growth, create new jobs, support European businesses and strengthen our industrial competitiveness in the world.

The supermarket of the future is completely green, the refrigerant natural and not altering the climate, the consumption of energy minimal and exclusively from renewable sources, the equipment able to work as a team and to communicate with the energy supplier, keeping food always at a perfect and stable temperature.

Sustainability in the food retail sector is within our reach right now and in Clean Cooling, European companies are undisputed global leaders.

The LIFE-C4R has received funding from the Life program of the European Union under grant agreement no. LIFE17 CCM/IT/000120.

Life-C4R (2018-2021) is the EPTA project created to accelerate the deployment of a new generation of high-efficiency CO2 refrigeration systems based on FTE2.0 and ETE technologies in any country, regardless the outside temperature.

Warning: This is a commercial profile

© 2019. This work is under license CC-BY-NC-ND.

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