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Academics seek to bridge isolated clean cold and cold chain networks

University of Birmingham completes first workshop event with Indian agriculture experts that aims to embrace holistic approach to sustainable cooling of produce

More must be done to bridge the isolated use of clean cold and cold chain networks moving forward to ensure a more sustainable approach to cooling in food distribution, academics from the University of Birmingham have argued.

Professor Toby Peters has argued that although there are viable examples of a seamless network of cold chain technologies, as there also are for technologies for clean cold, these networks presently exist in isolation.

Professor Peters claimed that it would be vital over the next year and a half to not only demonstrate innovative approaches to the cold chain, but to provide more detailed and sustainable systems to distribute food and cut down on potential waste.

The comments follow a workshop event held at the university earlier this month to bring together Indian policy makers and the institution’s clean cold specialists in a bid to identify new approaches to clean cold policy beyond just adopting new technology.

A blueprint was created during the two-day event, held in partnership with agricultural experts from the states of Haryana, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh, in order to set out potential new approaches for a growing number of developing nations that need to implement cold chains.

Professor Peters said that the blueprint is focused on a system level approach to so-called cleaner technologies that can be integrated into a network of cooled distribution centres and vehicles to reduce environmental impact of keeping food chilled.

“Cooling is the backbone of society and demand is growing fast, but we need more radical innovations beyond electricity and batteries; energy, food and water are interlinked and we need an innovative approach that embraces new technological solutions and ways of working,” he said.

“We need to act urgently and create one community working collaboratively – not just in India, but around the globe. The opportunities offered in developing markets can encourage new thinking, business models and policy.”

Professor Peters said that the blueprint would be used to create a “living lab” to understand societal and political factors that may impact efforts to improve efficiency in keeping food chilled. However, major challenges would need to be addressed over 2018 to outline details of how viable commercial models could be implemented in India and beyond for improved efficiency in cooling.

Professor Peters will be travelling to Delhi next week in order to refine outcomes from the previous workshop with Government officials, industry and academics.

The events will also help inform some of the focus of a new clean cold congress that the University of Birmingham will host next April.

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