Sustainable Refrigeration Options Become More Attainable for Retailers

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Environmental friendliness—particularly within food sourcing and business practices—has been a hot topic for both shoppers and retailers alike over the past several years. From locally sourced foods to energy-saving lightbulbs in stores, a growing number of grocers are working to make improvements in their business’ sustainability efforts.

One way to update sustainability in grocery stores is to update refrigeration solutions. Standard refrigeration systems are charged by hydrofluorocarbons, which can be damaging to the environment. Newer, more environmentally friendly options could soon begin to use propane R290—and very little of it, at that—as a refrigerant to keep foods cold. Learning about the benefits is a great starting point for grocers who want to make some updates in their stores.

Environmental benefits of propane-charged refrigeration systems

Global Warming Potential, or GWP, was developed to draw comparisons between different gases and their global warming impact. More specifically, it refers to how much energy the emissions of one ton of a gas will absorb over a given period, relative to the emissions of one ton of carbon dioxide. The larger the GWP, the more the gas warms the earth compared to CO2 over the same time period (generally 100 years, for testing purposes).

Traditional refrigeration solutions, charged with hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), have GWP ratings of more than 1300. Propane R290 has a very low GWP of 3 compared to HFCs. According to Richard Gilles, senior product leader for Hussmann’s Distributed Systems Group, “Propane is scientifically proven to be safe for the environment…in the event of any leakage, propane has a miniscule GWP and that safeguards the environment.”

New refrigeration solutions, like Hussmann’s microDS refrigeration system, are available for low- and medium-temperature merchandisers—the kind consumers see in grocery stores, convenience stores, drug stores and more—that refrigerate products like meat, produce, dairy and frozen food. These solutions use between 90 and 95% less refrigerant than HFC solutions, and are self-contained and hermetically sealed to prevent any propane leaking. With options like these, which also have lower installation costs, it’s likely that many retailers will begin adopting these more sustainable refrigeration systems.

Sustainability and foodservice

According to Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating report, 37% of consumers say they are visiting grocery store prepared-foods areas more than they used to for healthy food and beverages. With an increased interest in healthy items and sustainability, consumers may be looking to grocery stores not only for better foods, but also better business practices such as sustainable, safe refrigeration. By installing efficient refrigeration systems, grocers can then position themselves as the “green” choice in the neighborhood. Launching environmentally friendly initiatives that the store is participating in is a great way to attract consumers who are concerned about the environment and where they get their food.

Learning more about propane-charged refrigeration systems is the first step in upgrading. Learn more about the benefits of propane-based refrigerating solutions at

This post is sponsored by Hussmann