Sunday, May 22, 2011

Greenpeace's Greenfreeze

I discovered Greenpeace's Greenfreeze initiative a few years ago in graduate school, and thankfully their progress has gone far beyond popular reporting, or progressive news reports for that matter.

F-gases were directly responsible for 17% of man-made climate change in 2005. CFCs such as Freon, which you've probably heard of, have been banned. However, the HFCs that were presented as the "environmental alternative" to CFCs by chemical companies have had a similarly grave impact on the environment -- which is why we need to eliminate them now.

Our first big success on natural refrigerants came in 1992, when Greenpeace developed an alternative refrigerator that did not use the extremely potent greenhouse gases HFCs and HCFCs. Greenpeace obtained orders from 70,000 Germans for the non-existent refrigerator in just three weeks, which in turn encouraged a manufacturer to actually build it. In the subsequent 17 years, over 300 million refrigerators utilizing this technology have been sold in Europe, Asia, and South America by leading brands including Whirlpool, Bosch, Haier, Panasonic, LG, Miele, Electrolux, and Siemens. On October 29, 2008, General Electric announced its intention to manufacture and sell a GreenFreeze-style refrigerator in the United States.
100 million domestic refrigerators and freezers are produced annually globally. Between
35% - 40% of the global fleet production is Greenfreeze. All major European, Japanese and
Chinese manufacturers now produce Greenfreeze refrigerators. The technology now dominates
the market in Europe, Japan and China. It is also produced in Latin America, in Argentina and
Brasil. Greenfreeze has not yet entered the market in the USA or in Canada.

The world's cooling industry has to be converted to natural refrigerants. If we are successful, F-gases will be a thing of the past within five years. On September 29, 2008, at scoop shops in Boston and Washington, D.C., Greenpeace and Ben & Jerry's unveiled the freezer of the future. It will, of course, keep pints of Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia as cold as ever, but it will also help keep the planet cool by eliminating the use of the potent chemicals known as HFCs. At the end of March 2009, PepsiCo Inc. announced they will be testing greener vending machines which will reduce their environmental impact, a move celebrated by Greenpeace.

In December 2009,
Coke announced
that 100 percent of their new vending machines and coolers will be HFC-free by 2015. Coca-Cola is using two HFC-free solutions: hydrocarbon refrigeration is used in smaller refrigeration equipment and carbon dioxide (CO2) is used in larger equipment. Coca-Cola committed to use its scale to aggregate demand and encourage supply as a means of accelerating the transition to HFC-free refrigeration equipment.

We're also currently working with a consortium of global companies to change the world's refrigeration and cooling. We've used carrots and sticks with these businesses, and our efforts have resulted in surprising alliances.
Refrigerants, Naturally! was founded by Coca-Cola, McDonald's, and Unilever in 2004 to encourage the elimination of F-gases from refrigeration and cooling. We work with these companies and many others by pushing for rapid change and constantly reminding them of the consequences of inaction. Just as importantly, we try to ease their way to a green solution by educating and developing the market and changing the policies so that the choice for natural refrigeration is also a profitable choice. It's expensive to retool a factory and there are many ways to mitigate these large investments.
from, and more at


  1. This means that a refrigerator will consist as always of an insulated box with a much simpler cooling panel doing the work. The redesign and conversion will be swift.Refrigeration Equipment

  2. That's a hopeful view, that "The redesign and conversion will be swift." Certainly, Greenpeace has made a historical contribution not made by the industry's corporations.
    The delay in which no Greenfreeze model was available in mainstream US markets, excepting the 2008 announcement by GE, is sad and tragic testament to co-operative economist David Ellerman's deft summary of the question of transaction cost barriers and social power relations.
    Ben and Jerry's ice cream, owned by Unilever, did a great service in 2008 by pushing the EPA to approve the technology and then bringing 2,000 units to start with. A 2008 article at discusses this, as does one from 2010 at