Supermarket Refrigeration, Carbon Emissions, Climate Change & A Poll!

How often do you walk into the fresh food section of your favourite (or not) supermarket and wish you had brought along a snowsuit or at least a jersey… More often than not my entrance to the refrigerated product section while grocery shopping makes me want to turn around and run. The refrigerated product section tends to be rather chilly…. maybe too chilly sometimes. I understand the need to ensure constant low temperatures in the food chain/ management process etc etc, however, one needs to consider the costs involved with maintaining low temperatures for such large open areas. This is particularly the case when the entire refrigerated food section of a shop is cooled and the fridges are door less. Surely the simple action of installing doors on supermarket fridges would reduce the need to cool entire sections of supermarkets while also reducing cooling costs and associated emissions?

Some interesting facts about supermarket refrigeration and emissions are;

  • Chemicals released by fridges account for 30% of British supermarkets’ direct emissions (www.gaurdian.co.uk)
  • There is concern about the use of damaging HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) gases as coolants which were introduced in the 1990s as a safer alternative to ozone-depleting chemicals such as CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). (www.chillingfacts.uk.org)
  • Supermarkets are the biggest industrial emitters of HFCs, which do not damage the ozone layer but have a high global warming potential.
  • One tonne of the widely used gas called R404a has a warming effect equal to 3,900 tonnes of CO2 over a 100-year period. (www.gaurdian.co.uk)

Issues such as financial costs, emissions and environmental costs all need to be considered and mitigated particularly now, due to the need to respond to the effects and impacts of resource scarcity, climate change and environmental degradation. Many supermarkets and refrigeration companies are working towards reducing the use of technology and substances that emit green house gasses. However, the move towards efficient, sustainable and climate friendly refrigeration solutions for supermarkets seems to be quite slow and I have been wondering why it is that most supermarkets still have open, door less fridges? I do realize that some supermarkets are actively (or in certain instances slowly) working towards using less harmful refrigeration systems is it not easier to simply place glass/ transparent doors on fridges in the interim? That way shoppers can see what is inside the fridge’s while the supermarket maintains appropriate temperatures and reduces cooling costs and emission. There is also the option of motion sensitive automatic doors on fridges? Are door less fridges not being used because:

  • Manufactures don’t make large fridges with doors?
  • Cost involved with doors on fridges?
  • Supermarkets are scared that consumers will buy less if they have to open a door? Or if there is a glass door between the food and the consumer? Supermarkets therefore opt to provide lazy shoppers with the easiest option?
  • Shoppers are perceived as being too lazy to open a door?
  • Germ transfer from door handles are seen as a problem?

So I thought it would be a good idea to see how many people think doors on supermarket fridges are a viable interim measure for supermarkets to adopt until we are able to have more efficient and sustainable cooling systems in all our supermarkets.

Please humor me and take this poll so that we are able to determine whether or not asking supermarkets to install doors on their fridges is a viable option!!

  

 

References and additional reading for the super enthusiastic: 

Woolworths SA

The Gaurdian UK (article)

EPEE Global

Chilling Facts UK

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/produkte-e/fckw/massnahmen.htm

http://www.agreenerfestival.com/2010/02/chilling-facts-%e2%80%93-supermarkets-fridges-more-damaging-than-plastic-bags/

http://www.developmentchannel.org/environment/energy/973-supermarket-fridges-hazardous-to-environment-study http://www.eia-international.org/ http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=grocery.sb_grocery

Advertisements

Food & Environment

We need food to survive. We also need a safe an healthy environment to provide us with food. Without food we would all die and without an healthy environment we would not be able to eat. This is all very simple…. however, we need to be a bit more mindful of the environmental impact of what we eat.  The manner in which our food is produced, harvested, stored, packaged, transported, prepared and eaten all have environmental impacts that are in many instances contributing to the degradation of our environment, which is counter productive considering that we need the environment to provide us with food. 

The fact that we all need food and all eat at least once a day (those of us who are food secure) means that by simply introducing one or two (preferably more, but something is better than nothing) environment friendly habits to your eating habits you could contribute to a healthier environment and also a healthier you!
The quickest way to green your eating habits is by focusing on reducing the food miles, carbon emissions, pesticides, wastes, and packaging associated with the food you eat.  A few simple tips are:
  • Buy and eat seasonal fruit and vegetables that are preferably organic, pesticide free and locally grown.

    Fresh Cherries

  • Stay away from over/ unnecessarily processed foods such as pre-chopped veggies or peeled and sliced oranges? Processing and storage involves energy and emissions so if you don’t really need the processed food don’t buy it!

    Reusable shopping bag

  • Reduce food waste. Only buy and prepare as much as you eat. Less waste less pollution and less costs!
  • Buy your food in packaging that is either recyclable or reusable or try and stay away from unnecessarily packaged food. Individually packaged fruit and vegetables is wasteful and unnecessary. Do we really need individually wrapped oranges/bananas/ onions etc?

    Individually packaged fruit.

  • Reuse your shopping bags.
  • Grow your own fresh fruits, vegetables and or herbs? This will save on production and transportation and storage costs which will in turn result in fewer carbon emissions.
  • Recycle your food waste by having a wormery or composter. You can use the nutrient rich “worm tea” and compost in your garden.
  • Buy local produce. This reduces transport related emissions (food miles) and also supports the local economy.
  • Eat less meat, this reduces your GHG emissions.
Some informative links on the above are:

Example of a Worm Farm