Global retailers to phase out harmful fridge gases

A woman walks through a display of refrigerators at a PC Richard and Son store in New York December 23, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

LONDON (Reuters) - Over 400 companies including Tesco, Coca-Cola, Kraft and Nestle plan to phase out hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants from 2015, the Consumer Goods Forum said in a statement.

HFCs are used for refrigeration but are potent greenhouse gases which are thought to contribute to global warming.

Commercial refrigeration is the second highest emitter of HFCs behind mobile air conditioning, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data.

The forum’s members, which number over 400 global consumer goods manufacturers with combined revenues of over $2.8 trillion, will start phasing out HFC from 2015 and replace them with natural refrigerants.

A United Nations science panel estimates that HFC emissions will triple to 1.2 billion tones in 2015 from 0.4 billion tones in 2002 unless action is taken.

“The technologies exist today for our sector to significantly reduce the direct and indirect emissions of the refrigeration equipment we use,” said the forum’s co-chairs Muhtar Kent, chief executive of Coca-Cola and Lars Olofsson, chief executive of Carrefour.

Environmental group Greenpeace said the move should pave the way for change across the industry.

“We expect each of these companies to set forth a timeline by 2015 for complete phase out of HFCs,” said Amy Larkin, Greenpeace’s solutions director.

Last week, the European Commission banned from 2013 the use of carbon credits in its emissions trading scheme from HFC-23 destruction projects. HFC-23 is a byproduct of the refrigerant manufacturing process.

Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by William Hardy