Supermarket fridges as polluting as their plastic bags, study claims
The switch to refrigerants that do not damage the ozone layer brought in a generation of chemicals with a greenhouse effect thousands of times stronger than CO2"The environmental impact of supermarket refrigeration is a big issue but little understood … it is a hell of a lot bigger than free plastic bags."
The EIA is concerned about the widespread use of damaging HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) gases as coolants. Supermarkets are the biggest industrial emitters of HFCs, which were hurriedly introduced in the 1990s as a safer alternative to ozone-depleting chemicals such as CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
HFCs do not damage the ozone layer but their global warming potential is significant. One tonne of the widely used gas called R404a has a warming effect equal to 3,900 tonnes of CO2 over a 100-year period. The level of leakage of the chemicals is equivalent to 1bn car journeys to the average local supermarket. The gases escape in normal use and maintenance.