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Supermarkets under pressure again over refrigeration

Supermarkets are bracing themselves for more criticism and public analysis of their refrigeration policies, following the publication of the second Chilling Facts report from campaign group the Environmental Investigation Agency.

The EIA’s league table which ranks retailers by their progress toward natural refrigerants, and reduction in emissions was this year topped by Waitrose for its combination of a hydrocarbon refrigeration programme and aggressive targeting of leak reduction. Tesco was placed second for its well-publicised carbon dioxide roll-out plan, but was criticised for not setting a target date for the retailer to become HFC-free.

M&S, which topped the table last year, was placed third this year, and was also marked down for not publishing a date for going HFC-free.

The EIA’s first report last year caused a storm of protest from retailers, who criticised its methodology and ignoring the impact of leak reduction and energy efficiency on emissions. This year, with the retailers providing much of their own data and attention paid to leaks, the criticism has moved to the scoring criteria. Co-op Group, which was placed a lowly ninth in the league, said EIA hadn’t taken into account its 2009 leak reduction performance.

Several supermarkets have complained that the table rewards target setting rather than the reality on the ground.

One refrigeration manager said: “We have been penalised for the fact that some have made big pronouncements while we have just been getting on and making changes.

The Chilling Facts league table:

1. Waitrose         
2. Tesco
3. M&S
4. Sainsbury’s
5. Lidl
6= Morrisons
6= Asda
8. Midlands Co-operative
9. Co-op Group
10. Iceland
11. Asda

Retailers and suppliers will be discussing this and the impact of Chilling Facts amongst other subjects atRAC’s Retail Question Time on 25 February. See HERE for details.

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