The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), Washington, D.C., announced a new resolution on refrigeration, calling on all consumer goods companies to phase out harmful hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). This new commitment is seen as a vital next step in helping to meet the goal of keeping the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C. HFCs represent 1.5% of total warming potential today, and are expected to increase to 6-9% of total GHG by 2050 unless action is taken.

The resolution focuses on the installation of new refrigeration equipment in markets where viable, the engagement with key stakeholders to overcome barriers in markets where installation is not currently viable, the reduction of the environmental impact of existing refrigeration systems and the development of individual targets and action plans to measure the first three points.

CGF also recognizes the important role that regulation plays in ensuring the equitable global phase-down of HFCs, and thus calls for the inclusion of HFCs within the Montreal protocol.

"Once again, CGF members are showing global and environmental leadership, and this latest move will play an important role in achieving wider sustainability standards in the industry. As we move away from HFC gases and toward cleaner business practices, it's crucial that the consumer goods industry continues to lead the way and stay ahead of the curve," says Mike Coupe, a member of the board and chief executive officer of Sainsbury's, UK.

"Positive actions by leading global consumer goods companies over the last six years have proved the commercial and operational viability of low carbon refrigeration systems in many parts of the world,” adds Alan Clark, also a board member and chief executive officer of SABMiller, UK. “As part of our Prosper sustainable development ambition, SABMiller has a 2020 target to purchase no new HFC fridges. This new refrigeration resolution will help the whole industry move toward eliminating high global warming-potential refrigerants from our sector, as part of our active commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement."

Building on the industry's results

Back in 2010, when the CGF's original refrigeration resolution was announced, refrigeration was already playing a key role in the consumer goods industry, but the low carbon technologies to replace HFCs were unproven. Therefore, the CGF committed to trialling new approaches to refrigeration by 2015.

As a consequence, CGF members have installed low carbon refrigeration systems in over 4,000 supermarkets, 4 million ice cream and drinks chiller units worldwide and industrial plants with the majority being natural refrigerants.

While the testing of pilots and introduction of natural refrigerants has been positive, the new resolution is necessary to help drive further uptake and ensure HFCs are permanently removed from operational systems globally.

This second refrigeration resolution is the fourth environmental resolution as part of the CGF Sustainability Pillar, complementing the other active resolutions on deforestation and food waste.