Reducing the Carbon Footprint at the Pie Shop

Well, yes, we do sometimes need to serve just a little bit of ice cream with our pie, so this new cooler seems the right way to go. I’m sure all the folks who drive out here in their SUVs will agree with me on this one.

Greenpeace and Ben & Jerry’s Make Climate-Friendly Ice Cream Cooler : TreeHugger.

by Daniel Kessler on 09.30.08

Photo credit: Ben & Jerry’s

It is now possible to reduce your carbon footprint (but not your actual footprint) by choosing ice cream from a climate-friendly cooler thanks to new “Greenfreeze” technology created by Greenpeace, Ben & Jerry’s, and Unilever.

(Mostly) Guilt Free Ice Cream
Today, the first-of-its-kind ice cream freezer, which does not rely on potent greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as a refrigerant, was unveiled at a Georgetown scoop shop in Washington, D.C. The occasion was marked by a celebration at the shop attended by Greenpeace Executive Director John Passacantando and Ben & Jerry’s founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.

Greenpeace researchers in Germany first developed the precursor to the climate-friendly freezer in the early 1990s when it became clear that HFCs, which the chemical industry had marketed as a safe alternative to ozone depleting clouroflourocarbons (CFCs), were accelerating global warming.

The technology showed, contrary to industry claims, it was possible to use effective refrigerants that protected the ozone layer and the climate. In fact, the cooling units turned out to be more efficient than those using HFCs.

Greenpeace made the technology available to industry free of charge, and it is now used by leading manufacturers such as Haier, Whirlpool, LG, Bosch, Panasonic and Samsung and can be found in over 300 million refrigerators worldwide.

However, the HFC-free refrigerators weren’t allowed in the United States until this year when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allowed Ben & Jerry’s to run a test trial of 2,000 Greenfreeze-equipped freezer units at shops across the country.

“We’ve been working on getting better refrigeration technology into our distribution networks in the U.S since 2001, and more specifically on hydrocarbon freezing for the past year,” said Pete Gosselin, Ben & Jerry’s engineer. “It’s one small step for our business, and a giant leap for opening the door to prove that a more environmentally benign refrigeration technology could work in the U.S. market.”

Dangerous Greenhouse Gas
While carbon dioxide has been singled out as Enemy Number One in the effort to stop global warming, HFCs or “F-gases” (after the heat-trapping element flourine common to them all) are up to 20,000 times more potent than CO2 and constitute 17 percent of the global warming pollution in the atmosphere today. The gases are found in most refrigeration and cooling units, including household and automobile air conditioners.

Greenpeace has been working to eliminate the use of HFCs since their broad introduction in the market in 1992.

Already, Greenfreeze technology has transformed the residential refrigerator industry in Europe and Asia and prompted interest in natural refrigeration worldwide. Greenpeace is also working with Coca-Cola and McDonald’s to encourage the elimination of F-gases from all refrigeration and cooling units within five years

In addition to this market work, Greenpeace was a major force behind the decision to have HFCs included in international climate change protocols (Montreal and Kyoto) as well as in numerous government environmental ministries or regulatory bodies.