What Impact Does My Refrigerator Have On The Environment?

A refrigerator has huge potential to contribute to pollution. It is, therefore, important that commercial refrigeration is as environmentally-friendly as possible.

On first glance, it would seem that a domestic refrigerator, tucked away in the corner of the kitchen, does not particularly impact the environment. Certainly no more than any other electrical device anyway.

However, in reality, a refrigerator has huge potential to contribute to pollution.

And when we think of refrigeration on a larger commercial scale, the effects can be even bigger. It is, therefore, important that commercial refrigeration is as economical and environmentally-friendly as possible.

The biggest culprit inside the cabinet is the refrigerant. Chosen for the ability to change state, refrigerants are ideal for the refrigeration system. Unfortunately, as science has progressed, it has unveiled that refrigerants can have harmful environmental effects.

Many refrigerants are likely to pose health risks if released. Most are toxic and some even explosive.

If released into the atmosphere, there are two main ways in which refrigerants harm the environment:


  • Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP)


This is the extent to which a particular refrigerant can damage the ozone layer.

Since the 1970s, scientists have noticed a lowering of the amount of ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere. Additionally, what is known as an ozone hole is appearing around the polar regions.


  • Global Warming Potential (GWP)


Many refrigerants are also greenhouse gasses (as is carbon dioxide). In the atmosphere they absorb infrared radiation and then re-radiate heat. This measure compares the refrigerant impact to that of CO2.

Choice of refrigerant always involves a compromise. With legislation also demanding the phasing out of some products, the refrigeration industry is constantly looking for new solutions.

Some of the major refrigerants are:


  • CFC (ChloroFluoroCarbons) – CFCs have been banned since the beginning of the 1990s. There are a massive amount of refrigeration units still out there which haven’t been converted yet. Worldwide, there is an ongoing illegal trade in CFCs. This is worrying as they are hugely destructive for the environment.


  • HCFC (HydroChloroFluoroCarbons) – HCFCs are also banned. They were a hasty fix to attempt to cope with the CFC ban. They contained less chlorine but were still damaging to the globe.
  • HFC (HydroFluoroCarbons) – these contain no chlorine and have no impact on the ozone layer (ODP=0). Unfortunately, they have a massive impact on global temperatures if released into the atmosphere. HFCs have been subject to supply restrictions by regulation. From 2020, their use will be squeezed further.

To establish what type of refrigerant is in your system, and how to best to go about meeting the ever-changing regulations, contact R. Perkins & Sons. With years of refrigeration experience, we can talk you through ways to avoid negatively impacting the environment.

With regular servicing and professional management of refrigerant, which could be covered by a service contract with us, your refrigeration system can remain safe and dependable.

The more efficiently the unit runs, the less energy it will be using. That’s good news for the environment, and for profits too.

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