REFRIGERANTS

Mapping Supermarket Greenhouse Gases

Supermarkets are major contributors to global warming through emissions of refrigerants, which are super potent greenhouse gases, some 1,000 times more so than CO2.

Regenerating Toronto (formerly Drawdown Toronto) and Regenerate BC (formerly Drawdown BC) have joined forces with the Environmental Investigation Agency in the US and their Climate Friendly Supermarkets Initiative to investigate which refrigerants are in use across Canada.

What began with a virtually empty map in Canada, has now been populated with 200+ supermarkets across the country, including over 100 here in the GTA, thanks in part to our friends in EcoCaledon, Climate Action Newmarket-Aurora, and For Our Kids Toronto.

Do you want to be a citizen scientist and help us collect data? And find out which refrigerant gases your local grocery store is using, and put it on the map? It’s easy – just take a picture when you shop!

Preventing refrigerant pollution is one of the single most effective actions we can take against global warming. Analysis by Project Drawdown has shown that preventing leaks or replacing these super pollutants can eliminate more than 100 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions by 2050.

In Partnership With

Bc drawdown

What Are Refrigerants?

Refrigerants are gases we use to keep things cool. They are inside fridges, freezers and A/C units, and most are incredibly harmful global warming gases if released into the atmosphere – thousands of times more potent than CO2. The main type of refrigerant today, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCS), is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases. Preventing refrigerant pollution by controlling leaks and switching to more climate friendly alternative is on of the top solutions to global warming Learn more about refrigerants Why supermarkets?

Project Drawdown

Project Drawdown is the World’s Leading Resource for Climate Solutions. Its mission is to help the world reach “Drawdown” – the point in the future when levels of green-house gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change – as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible

Visit Project Drawdown

 

Supermarkets and Global Warming

is it a hero or a zero?

Find your Supermarket

This is the heading

Climate Friendly Supermarkets is an initiative by the Environmental Investigation Agency(EIA) to map the use of refrigerants by supermarkets world-wide. We are collaborating with EIA to populate it with Canadian grocery stores. Can you find yours?

can't find it?

Add your supermarket to the map!

Look for the manufacturer’s label inside fridges or freezers and take a picture of it. The label will have information about what kinds of refrigerants are used, typically identified by “R-” followed by a number, e.g. R-22.

Here’s an example of what it could look like.

Visit  climatefriendlysupermarkets.org  for information on how to submit your picture to EIA for analysis. When they have the result, they’ll let you know and put it on the map!

Want to do more?
Get in touch(use the contact form) – and see below for information about our July 26 event!

Refrigerants 101

Refrigerants are gases that are use everywhere: in every fridge, freezer, A/C unit and cooler; in homes, supermarkets, office buildings, warehouses, factories, cars and many other places. Cooling systems often leak. When refrigerants escape, they end up in the atmosphere where they are extremely potent greenhouse gases.

Global Warming Potential

There are many refrigerants in use today, each with its own Global Warming Potential (GWP). This measure was developed to allow comparisons of the global warming impact of different gases. Specifically, it is a measure of how much solar energy the emissions of 1 tonne of a gas will absorb over a given period of time, relative to the emissions of 1 tonne of CO2. For example, the GWP for the R-22 refrigerant  is 1,810 – it is eighteen hundred times more powerful than CO2!

Supermarket Emissions

On average, it is estimated that 25% of  refrigerants leak from supermarket systems each year, and often at a level that will not trigger an alarm for inspection and repair.  EIA estimates that a typical American supermarket releases 875 pounds of HFCs each year, or almost 400 kilograms. Translated to CO2, that’s equivalent to the emissions of more than 300 cars! If we take the total number US supermarket systems each year and often at a level that will not trigger an alarm for inspection and repair.   EIA estimates that a typical American supermarket releases 875 pounds of HFCs each year, or almost 400 kilograms. Translated to CO2, that’s equivalemt to the emissions of more than 300 cars! Of we take the total of US supermarkets into account, the amount of entirely preventable emissions become astronomical: 15 million tonnes of HFCs. To continue the previous analogy, that compares to the emissions of 12 million cars.  There is no reason to believe Canada is performing better.

The solutions: Preventing leaks and switching to climate friendly alternatives

Altogether, these two solutions can prevent emissions equivalent to more than 100 billion tonnes of C02 in the next 30-40 years – one-tenth of all the emission reductions that are required to reach drawdown. That’s how big this problem is.  Additional actions that have not (yet) been included in the analysis include using more effective appliances that need  less refrigerant liquid. Using alternative refrigerants is not hard. In Europe, more than 26,000 supermarkets have already made the switch to CO2 systems.

Canada's international responsibilities

Canada has signed on the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, another international agreement, which provides a framework to phase out the import and use of HFCs. Canada has developed regulations to require the phasing out of the highest GWP refrigerants in Canada, and many big users of refrigerants are retrofitting their systems to adopt lower GWP refrigerants.  However, the phase out process doesn’t require large refrigerant users to jump straight to adopting natural refrigerants, and in the meantime the refrigerants they are using are making their way into our atmosphere.

Sources/Learn more

Find out more about refrigerants and the solutions to refrigerant pollution from:

Gas Type Main GWP
HFC R507 3985
HFC R404A 3922
HFC R410A 2088
HFC R407A 1774
HFC R407A 1774
HFC R14a 1430
HFC R448A 1390
HCFC R22 1810
Propane R290 3
Isobutane R600a 3
C02 R744 1
Ammonia R717 0

Partnership with Regenerate BC and EIA

We are thankful to be working with BC Drawdown in this initiative to take action on refrigerant pollution and global warming!

This collaboration began with two engineers, Eleanor Gill and Matthew Walton, who became interested in refrigerants when it was identified as one of the top climate solutions by Project Drawdown.

As concerned citizens from Vancouver, they researched refrigerant use in Canada, looking specifically for actions that individuals could take to move the dial and affect positive change.

They aligned with the simple citizen action of EIA’s Climate Friendly Supermarket Project, and reached out east looking for support from other regions to help populate the map in Canada – and we are happy to be partnering!

In our continuing conversations we see great potential in further exploring this topic.  Refrigerants are interwoven into our daily lives, through air conditioning of our living spaces, preservation of food from farm to table, and even in recreational hubs like ice rinks.

Together, we are taking a first step through this supermarket initiative, while looking towards further opportunities and next steps that lie within this solution to push industry and policy at all levels.

 

Bc drawdown

Refrigerants are interwoven into our daily lives, through air conditioning of our living spaces,
preservation of food from farm to table, and even in recreational hubs like ice rinks.

Why Focus on Supermarkets?

We are thankful to be working with BC Drawdown in this initiative to take action on refrigerant pollution and global warming!

This collaboration began with two engineers, Eleanor Gill and Matthew Walton, who became interested in refrigerants when it was identified as one of the top climate solutions by Project Drawdown.

As concerned citizens from Vancouver, they researched refrigerant use in Canada, looking specifically for actions that individuals could take to move the dial and affect positive change.

They aligned with the simple citizen action of EIA’s Climate Friendly Supermarket Project, and reached out east looking for support from other regions to help populate the map in Canada – and we are happy to be partnering!

In our continuing conversations we see great potential in further exploring this topic.  Refrigerants are interwoven into our daily lives, through air conditioning of our living spaces, preservation of food from farm to table, and even in recreational hubs like ice rinks.

Together, we are taking a first step through this supermarket initiative, while looking towards further opportunities and next steps that lie within this solution to push industry and policy at all levels.

 

July 26th - Join Us!

We are planning a meeting on July 26 at 7:30pm EST to further explore this topic, and invite anyone interested in learning more about refrigerant management and its relationship to global warming to attend. Joining us will be representatives from the Environmental Investigative Agency to share about their work and more details about the Climate Friendly Supermarket initiative. Check back for more information about this event as we get closer to the date.

If you have any questions about this initiative, please connect with Eleanor Gill (BC Drawdown) at gillwalton28@gmail.com or Andrea Stephens(Drawdown Toronto) at andrea@drawdownto.ca.

Contact Regenerate TO