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How we are rolling out climate friendly freezers


As the world’s largest ice cream producer, Unilever has more than 2 million point-of-sale freezers in 40 countries, stocked with brands such as Wall’s, Magnum and Cornetto. But with that reach comes responsibility, as we explore in the latest piece in our climate change series.

Walls Green Cabinet

Through our Sustainable Living Plan we pledged to grow our business while reducing our impact on the environment. When it comes to ice cream, one of our challenges is reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our point-of-sale freezer cabinets.

Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants are greenhouse gases, and they are more potent than CO2. Although freezers are designed to keep refrigerants sealed inside, if released they can be harmful and have a global warming impact thousands of times greater than the equivalent quantity of CO2.

Ben and Jerrys Lean and Green

Taking action on HFCs

That’s why we’ve been taking action. In 2004 we started to pioneer the use of naturally occurring hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerants in our ice cream cabinets.

Since then, we have been driving a strategic agenda to reduce the carbon and energy footprint of our cabinets worldwide, engaging customers on our progress and driving a shift in the industry.

Now we’re working on replacing point-of-sale ice cream freezer cabinets with climate-friendly alternatives which use natural HC refrigerants: propane and isobutane. They are non-toxic and environmentally safe. These new cabinets also demand less energy. They have an average energy reduction of over 30% compared to 2008 models – and the savings are set to continue. In 2014 we started pioneering technologies that are capable of providing an energy reduction of over 50% and we continue work to go further.

Greener freezer

Enormous potential

We’re also working with governments, NGOs, industry groups and other ice cream manufacturers to advance the introduction of these greener technologies across the globe.

“As the largest producer of ice cream in the world we have a responsibility to make a positive difference in reducing the environmental impact of our cabinets and freezers,” says Unilever CEO Paul Polman.

“The potential for emissions reductions through the use of natural refrigeration technologies is enormous. I would encourage everyone in the industry to go further and faster in their journey to HFC-free refrigeration systems.”

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