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Unilever ‘Green’ Freezers Cut Energy Use 10%

Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever, are starting the U.S. roll-out of ice cream freezer cabinets that are expected to use at least 10 percent less energy.

The company said the freezer cabinets, which it has used for several years across Europe and Asia, also replace harmful “F” gas coolants with hydrocarbon refrigerants, which were approved by the EPA last December.

Ben & Jerry’s says the approval came about in large part because of the advocacy work it has carried out with Greenpeace since 2008.

Unilever committed to stop buying cabinets using hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs) in 2000, and in 2004 it started replacing these cabinets with HC refrigerants. Last year alone, the company says it rolled out 22,000 of its “climate-friendly” freezers in non-U.S. markets, saving 12,000 tons of CO2.

Unilever has more than 900,000 HC freezers around the world and has committed to purchasing all its U.S. freezers using the HC technology. That includes not just cases for Ben & Jerry’s but for other brands including Breyers, Good Humor, Klondike, Magnum, and Popsicle. The freezers will be identified with “Greener Freezer” stickers to alert customers to the company’s environmental efforts.

Greenpeace business advisor Amy Larkin said Unilever’s steps to eliminate HFCs are helping to transform the sector. She said HFCs are expected to comprise between 10 and 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years, making the elimination a significant step towards preventing climate change.

The launch is the latest initiative in Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, launched in 2010, which aims to reduce the company’s environmental impact while doubling its business.

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