Sainsbury's lorry

Sainsbury’s has begun using natural refrigerant technology on its lorries

An eco-friendly refrigeration system initially developed for deep-sea containers is being trialled by Sainsbury’s to reduce the retailer’s carbon footprint.

It is testing what it claims is the world’s first naturally refrigerated trailer to transport chilled and frozen goods.

Working with Carrier Transicold, the two-year trial will test the HFC-free cooling technology for road transport using a modified version of Carrier’s NaturaLINE refrigeration system, which was initially for deep-sea containers and completed a sea trial programme in 2012.

“The new carbon dioxide technology has much less of an impact on climate change and we hope it will play a big part in helping us reduce our carbon emissions,” said Sainsbury’s head of transport operations Nick Davies.

“We will be monitoring its performance closely and, if successful, in line with our replacement plan, it could help us save over 70,000 tonnes of CO2 compared to the current refrigerated trailer fleet.”

David Appel, president of Carrier Transicold, added: “This is the very first time that our NaturaLINE system has been mounted to a box trailer anywhere in the world.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to advance Carrier’s natural leadership in environmental technologies, by working closely with Sainsbury’s, one of our largest customers in Europe, to test how the concept performs on the road. 

“It’s also much better news for the environment because natural refrigerant CO2 is non-ozone depleting and has a Global Warming Potential of one,” he added.

Sainsbury’s was the first UK retailer to commit voluntarily to phasing out harmful HFC refrigerants. It converted its refrigerated depots in 2011 and is on track to switch 250 stores to CO2 refrigerant by 2014 – more than 160 stores have already moved to the natural refrigeration system.