Sainsbury’s plans an environmentally friendly future
Published:  07 December, 2015

Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has continued its progress towards a more sustainable future by introducing what it claims to be the world’s first naturally refrigerated truck.

The company claims to be taking steps at every level of the business to reduce its carbon footprint. With more than 2,000 refrigerated trucks and trailers in its fleet, Sainsbury’s said it was trying to decrease the impact its refrigerated gases have on the environment, while keeping food cold when being distributed.

“Building on the success of our world-first CO2 refrigerated trailer, we are trialling a new natural refrigerant gas called R-452A that has 45% less global warming potential (GWP) than our existing refrigerant (R-404A gas),” said a statement from the supermarket chain.

“GWP is a relative measurement used to show the equivalent kilograms of CO2, comparing one greenhouse gas with a similar mass of carbon dioxide and how much each traps heat in the atmosphere.”

The R-452A gas is initially being piloted in 10 of its refrigerated vehicles, consisting of five rigid lorries and five articulated trailers. “We already know it has the same cooling capacity, fuel efficiency, reliability and refrigerant charge (the replenishment of gases from leaks) as R-404A gas. If it proves successful, we’ll roll it out across the fleet.”

Additionally, the firm has said that it continues to invest and develop in CO2 as a natural refrigerant, following its first CO2 refrigerated trailer two years ago. “This was an innovation that was initially developed for deep sea containers. CO2 is a natural refrigerant and has a GWP of one compared to traditional man-made refrigerants which have GWP in the thousands. For example, R-404A has a GWP
of 3,922.”

Sainsbury’s has since acquired a second CO2 refrigerated trailer that has the ability to operate at different temperatures. The pair will be joined by a third in 2016.

“Our work to reduce the impact of refrigeration gases in our transport fleet builds on our conversion to natural refrigerants in stores, depots and new units,” said the statement.

“To date we have 204 stores converted to CO2 refrigeration. However, the vibration and harsher environment of our trailers means it is more complex to get the right system to fit the purpose.”

The supermarket said its next plans were going to be focused on speeding up the process of developing CO2 as a natural refrigeration gas. “We believe this is where the future lies, but we know it will take some time before the technology catches up. In the interim, we’re looking at other alternatives, including R-452A gas, where we can reduce our impact.”