Slow progress addressing green refrigerant challenges

The Refrigerants Naturally Initiative was one of the partnerships registered during the recent Rio+20 conference. This is a partnership intended to replace refrigerants in the food and drink, food service and retail sectors with alternatives that do not contribute significantly to climate change. Currently, the refrigerants used in most commercial coolers and freezers, if released, either harm the ozone layer or contribute significantly to climate change.

The partners in Refrigerants Naturally are Coca-Cola Company (Belgium), McDonald´s (Germany), Unilever (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), and the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics of the United Nations Environment Programme. PepsiCo was a partner for a while but is no longer listed as such. Greenpeace, the first promoter of Greenfreeze technology, using hydrocarbons instead of ozone-depleting substances, was also once a partner but now is listed as a supporter.

This initiative has been going since 2004 but only limited progress has been made. According to the Initiative, by 2011, Unilever had placed more than 900,000 hydrocarbon-based ice cream cabinets throughout Europe, Latin America and Asia. About 800,000 bottle vending machines had been installed in China, Europe and Latin America by RedBull, PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company, either operating with CO2 or Hydrocarbon as refrigerant. However, global penetration of this technology is still low and the Refrigerants Naturally Initiative is a long way from replacing all HFC refrigerants with less environmentally-harmful alternatives.

Details of the partnership are at http://www.uncsd2012.org/index.php?page=view&type=1002&nr=162&menu=36 and the Initiatives website is at http://www.refrigerantsnaturally.com/

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