Refrigerants: using climate friendly alternatives

The refrigerants that we use also have a considerable impact on the climate. Even with the most modern equipment, the loss of some amount of refrigerant cannot be completely avoided. In order to minimise this effect, in all national organisations we continually check the equipment for leakage. In addition, we are replacing standard refrigerants with climate friendly alternatives.

The potential harm of refrigerants in comparison to carbon dioxide is reported as Global Warming Potential (GWP). We are gradually moving away from refrigerants with a high GWP to more climate friendly refrigerants. We are now using refrigerants with a GWP value of below 2,200 in over 2,680 of our stores. This figure rose from 14.8% in 2012 to 50.6% in 2015. In the UK, for example, all cooling units were fitted with the refrigerant R407F over the course of 2015. Its GWP is half as high as that of its predecessor, R404A.

The national organisations are also testing new refrigerants whose impact on the climate is lower. ALDI SOUTH in Germany, for example, has since 2010 been equipping all new stores exclusively with CO2 refrigeration units, which use natural refrigerants. As of the end of 2015, we had equipped 588 stores in Germany with these environmentally friendly systems. We also have 167 stores with CO2 cascade units. In Australia, 145 of 392 stores now use CO2 cascade units.


Global Warming Potential

A refrigerant’s potential to harm the environment is indicated using the unit Global Warming Potential (GWP). The GWP value indicates a refrigerant’s potential greenhouse effect in comparison to the same amount of carbon dioxide (CO2). The refrigerant R404A was until recently the standard refrigerant for refrigeration units around the world. Its GWP value is 3,943. That means one kilogramme of R404A is as harmful to the climate as 3,943 kg of carbon dioxide.

Usage of refrigerants in stores by GWP

In addition, in over 3,300 stores across the group the individual freezer units not connected to the central cooling use propane, which has a GWP of 3. In 71 distribution centres we exclusively use ammonia, a refrigerant with zero climate harming potential which is suitable only for use in large cooling units (as per end of 2014).

Refrigerants also play a key role in cooling during transport. In order to keep track of lost refrigerant covered by the Company Carbon Footprint and to minimise these losses, the national organisations have implemented monitoring systems for refrigerants used in the cooling facilities of fleet vehicles.

change in CO₂e emissions from refrigerant leaks 2012–2014

Despite an expansion of our business operations, between 2012 and 2014 the absolute amount of CO2 emissions from refrigerant leaks across the group dropped by 20.6% as a result of our efforts. In 2013 and 2014 the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) named the ALDI SOUTH Group a “Green Cooling Leader” within Europe for our progress in the respective previous year. ALDI US also showed its commitment by joining the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill Partnership in 2015.

For more information on the ALDI SOUTH Group’s climate strategy, see Efficiency: optimise energy consumption, Green electricity: opting for renewables and Logistics: optimising processes to reduce environmental impact