Concerned shoppers in the UK are supporting a petition to ban the use of open fridges and freezers in supermarkets and other retail outlets.
“Retailers in the United Kingdom unnecessarily waste huge amounts of energy on open fridges and freezers,” reads the petition text.
“Climate change threatens our planet. If all supermarkets had doors on their fridges and freezers it would save energy the equivalent of the entire residential population of Poland.”
A hot topic
The petition has struck a chord. It has now amassed almost 30,000 signatures.
“You wouldn’t leave the fridge open at home, so why are there about a gillion’s worth of them surrounding us in the supermarket?” said one supporter.
“Aside from the cost wasted in energy bills, the emissions this could save us is monumental. Apparently this could inhibit shoppers though? Dunno about you but think I’d still get my Ben and Jerry’s.”
When the petition received 10,000 signatures it received a response from the government. This read:
“Minimum energy performance standards, otherwise known as Ecodesign regulations, are technology neutral so do not prescribe that manufacturers should increase efficiency by putting doors on appliances.
“Rather, they set a minimum energy efficiency limit that all manufacturers placing products on the market must meet.
“The legislation therefore leaves it up to the manufacturer as to how they meet the requirements, which could include but is not restricted to putting doors on fridges.”
At 100,000 signatures, parliament will consider the petition for debate.
A local perspective
Dario Ferlin, M.AIRAH, is Refrigeration and Sustainable Innovations Engineer at Woolworths. He confirms there has been much conversation within his company about open refrigeration cases.
Ferlin was heavily involved in Woolworths’ World Refrigeration Day initiative to raise the profile of the industry. And despite the negative slant of the petition, he believes the publicity is a good thing.
“I cannot find a downside to this if I try,” he says. “A quick read of the latest Cold Hard Facts publication shines a light on the critical role refrigeration plays in modern economies. From energy consumption to CO2-e emissions mitigation potential, to employment numbers, to simply enabling modern economies to function. Yet this industry has virtually no public profile. Without a profile we will struggle to attract the best minds. So there is no downside.”
Ferlin says that although an open display case is similar to an open fridge at home, the comparison is not completely accurate.
“Firstly, supermarket open display cases have an air curtain to minimise cold air spillage, and thereby maintain product temperature and minimise energy consumption. That’s not the case with a domestic fridge.
“Secondly, supermarket open display cases remain open for the entire trading period. Manually operated or motorised night blinds typically come down outside trading hours.
“During the open times the showcases entrain a lot of airborne moisture, which leads to frost build-up on the evaporator coils. This can cause showcases to lose temperature control. So defrost systems and regular defrost cycles are required to ensure open showcases operate as required. There’s quite a bit more to open supermarket display cases than meets the public eye.”
As to whether minimum performance standards should be revised for refrigeration equipment, Ferlin says this is simply to be expected.
“Just like many design standards and codes in other industries, minimum performance benchmarks get revisited at regular intervals,” he says. “Subject to the technologies available at the time, these benchmarks often get revised up, thus raising the industry standard. There is no reason why the refrigeration industry should be treated any differently.”