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UK to host workshop on breaking down Indian clean cold barriers

University of Birmingham will next week host policy makers from across India to set out targets for tackling technical and political barriers to greener cold chains

Indian policy makers will take part in a clean cold workshop at the University of Birmingham next week to support a better understanding of the technical, economic and political challenges for sustainable cooling at a regional and global level.

Professor Toby Peters from the Birmingham Energy Institute, which is hosted at the university, said that the workshop would bring together end users and experts to rethink specific cold chain challenges in the states of Haryana, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.

The workshop is described as serving as an “anchor point” to look at how technology and politics may transform food cooling and logistics in ways that will directly influence global policy. This work will directly tie in to the inaugural clean cold congress the university will host next year.

Professor Peters claimed the end goal for this global clean cold focus was to create a “living lab” to demonstrate and understand pressures on improving efficiency in cooling food that can consider economic and cultural factors alongside technological challenges.

While the workshop and congress will look at emerging approaches to technology that could include energy storage and ”waste cold”, the university argues that there must be consideration of the entire cold chain from end to end.

Professors Peters asked, “What are the political and policy barriers? What are the training and cultural barriers that may not to be addressed to optimise cooling and find the most efficient, clean and sustainable ways of cooling in different markets?”  

“What I don’t want to see is the design of a cooling solution for a warehouse for example to be done in isolation,” he added.

Professor Peters said he hoped the future design and planning of cooling systems would ideally be considered within the wider system in which its operates. He argued that if warehouse refrigeration was not considered alongside factors such as the transport and shipping of cooled goods after production, designers may later find different designs or systems would be more efficient in the wider supply chain.

Policy consideration

Policy was viewed as a similar challenge in terms of special interest rates currently provided in India for agricultural equipment such as tractors. Professor Peters argued that interest rates were much higher on refrigerated transport that might also be used by producers. These would be factors to be considered as clean cold challenges.

The University of Birmingham has claimed that an estimated 40 per cent of food produce is wasted in India due to a lack of cold chains and planning.

“It is hard to overstate the importance of the cold chain to reduce food waste and increase the incomes of subsistence farmers. But the use of conventional, highly polluting cold chain technologies would simply solve one problem by worsening another,” said Professor Peters.

“We look forward to welcoming our Indian visitors and working together to deliver cooling cleanly and sustainably, so that India can feed growing populations without causing environmental or societal damage. This workshop will help us begin to build the expert networks and road map to reach that goal - scoping projects tailored to each state and food product.”

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