Transitioning to environmentally friendly refrigerants

When you walk into the Farmer’s Choice Ltd (FCL)  factory, you get a certain chill down your spine because of the cool atmosphere. At FCL, maintaining a functional cold chain is a key component of their operations, being a leading producer of fresh and processed meats in East Africa.

Mary Mburu the General Manager, Choice Meats and sustainability champion at FCL, takes us through how the company has joined global efforts to mitigate Ozone-Depleting Substances(ODS), by progressively transitioning into environmentally friendly options for their refrigerants as part of their net zero journey.

‘‘Refrigerants have been known to contribute negatively to the environment with most containing high Global Warming Potential (GWP) and thus depleting the ozone layer,’’ says Mary.

Is your refrigerant environmentally friendly? Some fridges, freezers, chillers, and air conditioners use hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) which are harmful to the ozone layer and thus referred to as ODS. Scientists have indicated that ODS are rapidly destroying the earth’s protective shield that protects humans and the environment from ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

Mary states that as a company they have been exploring the use of less potent refrigerants (lower GWP), moving to environmentally friendlier refrigerants, R-407C, even as they continue to explore better options.

‘‘FCL is working with stakeholders including GIZ Proklima and The Ministry of Environment and Forestry in the acquisition of refrigerant recoveries to ensure leakages are brought to a minimum during servicing of the units,’’ says Nicholas Amukumbi, the Environment, and Social Officer FCL.

He further added that they are also looking for opportunities for continuous training for the staff directly involved in dealing with Refrigerants.

‘‘The recovery unit allows the recapture and then re-use of the refrigerants. At any given period, the net zero emission target is nearly achieved by this means since they would be no need to purchase new refrigerants,’’ says Isaac Nyonje the Senior Environment and Social Officer at Industrial Promotion Services (IPS).

Isaac added that gas storage cylinders also provide means for keeping the captured gases for future use or even transferring them to other countries like Mozambique. He highlights that The Ministry of Environment and Forestry under NOU (National Ozone Unit) has over the years offered technical training support both to the public and private sectors handling ozone-depleting substances. With this private-public partnership program, the Net zero target is achievable.

All the United Nations member states managed to phase out HCFCs by 2010 , two decades after enacting the Montreal Protocol, a global agreement to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances.

Kenya is also implementing a project to phase out HCFCs, funded by the France government and GIZ Proklima.