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  • Author: Olaf Schulze

METRO's programme to reduce emissions from fluorinated refrigerants in cooling systems

F-Gas Exit Programme

This article includes several parts:

By 2030, METRO GROUP will have phased out the use of HFC worldwide. It has launched an “F-Gas Exit Programme” to reduce emissions from refrigerants.

What is the F-Gas Exit Programme?

The F-Gas Exit Programme (FEP) describes the management and investment process of transitioning from using fluorinated hydrocarbons (HFC) as refrigerants in cooling and A/C equipment to using natural refrigerants, especially carbon dioxide, propane, propene and ammonia.

METRO GROUP typically uses HFCs, especially R134a for chilling (cooling for goods > 0°C; e.g., dairy, meat) and R404a/ R422d for deep-freezing (< 0°C). Partially, for example in Russia, Ukraine and China, the CFC refrigerant R22 (choridefluoromethane) is used.
Stores in other countries that had previously used R22 (Global warming potential (GWP) 1.700) were changed to different refrigerants, such as HFC R422d (GWP 2.620), e.g. in Germany by 2009. Since 1 January 2015, it is prohibited to refill CFC R22 in the EU, and within the EU, it is not used in METRO cooling equipment anymore.

The first equipment constructed and operating with CO2 as a natural refrigerant was installed in 2008 in the METRO Cash & Carry store in Hamburg-Altona, and later in 2011 in Munich-Pasing and Schwelm, followed by Toulouse in 2012 and Weifang in 2014. All of these stores are new openings.

However, the majority of cooling equipment is located in existing stores.

Cooling equipment partially emits refrigerants into the atmosphere: through normal operation and corrosion, but also as a result of accidents and leakages.

The strategy of METRO Cash & Carry

Worldwide, METRO Cash & Carry emits approx. 100,000 kg of refrigerants of all types annually, with a leakage rate of 16% in 2011 and an impact on METRO’s climate footprint of about 15%. As a member of the Consumer Goods Forum, METRO GROUP committed itself to the Forum's resolution to begin phasing out HFCs as of 2015. The resolution was announced during the world climate conference 2010 in Cancún. In mid-2013, METRO Cash & Carry committed itself to only using natural refrigerants in new store openings or in the remodelling of cooling equipment, whenever technically possible.

METRO Cash & Carry therefore developed a successful strategy to lower its emissions from refrigerants: by 30 September 2016, the leakage rate of METRO Cash & Carry was reduced to 9.8%. The measures included:

a)         Meeting high standards with regard to maintenance and repair, according to the requirements of the regulation (EU) 517/2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases. These were given concrete form in the global MMS METRO Maintenance Standards and local requirements were observed as a minimum.

b)         The development and installation of a digital logbook for cooling systems (LOCS) as a software application in the METRO Energy Management System. The base data on the cooling equipment and the refill volumes is collected and reported monthly as a KPI at METRO Cash & Carry country level.

c)         An investment programme including rollout planning at store level to install and operate cooling equipment with natural refrigerants in all new store openings and to replace refrigerants with natural refrigerants in existing equipment in all remodelling projects (FEP: F-Gas Exit Programme).

Olaf Schulze

Information about the author

Olaf Schulze is Head of Energy Management at METRO AG.

This article includes several parts: