Opening the door on our fridge environmental program

You may have seen the recent report from an environmental group called The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) raising concerns about our strategy to reduce the environmental impact of our refrigeration. Asda is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of our refrigeration but we don’t believe that natural refrigerants alone offer the “silver bullet” that the EIA believe.

Asda Fridges

It is true that we decided not to reply to their survey this year after two years of being one of the first to respond. We took this decision reluctantly after spending huge time and effort last year to meet with them personally to talk them through our strategy. Unfortunately they chose to ignore the information we gave them as it didn’t support their one-dimensional view of the future of refrigeration.

In terms of reducing our direct emissions we have made considerable progress. Our existing estate is 21% more carbon efficient and our new stores are 42% more carbon efficient versus 2005. This data is available publicly through our website, including our carbon footprint that has the widest scope of any supermarket retailer.

The report fails to mention that fridges only have an environmental impact if they leak. Asda has the lowest gas leakage rate in the whole industry – a massive 42% reduction since 2005. At the same time we have worked hard to make sure that the gasses we use are more energy efficient and have less impact on global warming if they leak. Our current model store has fridges that are 50% more energy efficient than those in 2005 – this is a positive step towards reducing our impact on the environment, whilst at the same time saving us money so we can lower prices for our customers.

The EIA state in their report that refrigeration systems account for a third of the overall carbon footprint of a supermarket, Asda’s account for less than 15% of our overall footprint – showing that this is an issue we take very seriously.

At the same time as making real impact today we are also trialling the futuristic natural refrigerant systems that the EIA favour, for example a CO2 powered system at our Bootle store and an “╦ťIntelligent Air” system at our Tunstall store. However there is a long way to go yet with this experimental technology to make sure such systems are safe and efficient, not to mention the complete lack of engineers to service them.

To say we don’t care is just not true – apart from the activity above we recently chaired a Carbon Trust group focussing on creating best practice guidance for gas leak containment.

As you would expect from Asda, rather than making grand statements, we are making very common-sense and real progress here and now and our customers and the environment are reaping the benefits.

Posted by Julian on 28 March 2011
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