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Marks & Spencer downgraded over its refrigerators’ greenhouse gas emissions



Ethical retailer M&S has not made progress on phasing out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from its fridges and saving energy with closed doors, according to a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

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Tesco, Co-op and Waitrose have made real progress on phasing out HFCs – a class of compounds used in refrigeration and air-conditioning that contributes to global warming and ozone depletion – according to the organisation.

However, M&S has installed hybrid HFC/CO2 units, which save emissions but are not HFC-free. This is despite the retailer having ambitious environmental and sustainability goals in place by 2020, highlighted in its plan A.

M&S has also lost points because it does not use doors on its chillers to save energy.

EIA senior climate campaigner and lead author Fionnuala Walravens said, “Retailer feedback shows that adding doors can result in energy savings of about 33%. Those companies reluctant to make the move claim doors would significantly reduce impulse buying but the evidence from retailers who have introduced doors refutes this – in fact, there’s even testimony that having doors in place reduces shoplifting.

“Refrigeration units with doors mean customers don’t have to scurry uncomfortably along aisles in near-Arctic conditions and, as they require much smaller quantities of refrigerant, they are easier and safer to run on natural refrigerants.

A spokesman for M&S commented, “We’re making great progress on reducing carbon emissions from refrigeration. We hit our 2015 target two years early and last year reported emissions down 73% compared to 2007. We’re committed to extending this further and will trial doors on fridges next year as well as continuing our innovative work on alternatives to chill our delivery fleets.”

Photo: Jesús Gorriti via flickr

Further reading:

Marks & Spencer turns to biogas to cut carbon emissions

World Bank: cutting pollutants will save millions of lives

M&S chief: some investors ‘highly engaged’ on sustainability but most are not

Marks & Spencer launches plan to strengthen ethical commitments

Guide to Sustainable Spending 2013