Investment in the development of sustainable cooling technologies is key to fighting food waste, the Carbon Trust has warned

In its report The Emerging Cold Economy, the Trust this week called for the UK to become a world leader in innovative, sustainable, low-carbon cooling technologies, as global power demand for cooling is set to grow by the equivalent of three times the current electricity capacity of the UK by 2030.

It claimed demand was in part fuelled by the growing need to reduce levels of food waste, in particular in developing countries where up to half of perishable foods rot before reaching the market due to the absence of a ‘cold chain’. This chain of refrigerated warehouses and vehicles was vital, the report added.

The Trust estimates global food waste occupies a land area the size of Mexico; consumes 250 km3 of water per year, three times the volume of Lake Geneva; and accounts for 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon emissions.

“Delivering cold to where it is most needed requires research across technical, business and policy areas,” said Professor Richard Williams, head of the college of engineering and physical sciences at the University of Birmingham. “Take the development of materials and processes for efficient and cost-effective cooling and the creation of business systems models to recognise the ‘value’ of cold.”

Research suggests supporting the development of cold tech could create more than 10,000 UK jobs by 2025 and more than 25,000 jobs by 2050 in development, manufacturing and after-sales support.

Responding to its “call to action” would mean serious savings for logistics operations in food and drink, said David Saunders, director of innovation at the Trust.