Photo Credit: DW
In a bid to tighten national policy against ozone depleting substances (ODS), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) initiated a big leap towards cleaner technology among industries using cold chain facilities. The environmental agency wants the Philippine government to promote low carbon, energy efficient systems to eliminate the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons or HCFC in industries requiring heavy use of refrigeration and air-conditioning systems.
Cold chain covers every product that needs cooling from the farmgate to the dining table, including aspects such as transport, storage, transformation, and packaging. So far, sectors dependent on cold chains are the biggest users of ODS.
The Global Partnership for Improving the Food Cold Chain in the Philippines (GPI-FCCP), a project which got a $27.5 million funding from the Global Environmental Facility, shall carry out a strategic positioning of environment-friendly cold chain technology across the country.
“Refrigeration systems for transporting goods in the food industry will no longer use ODS-HCFC. Stringent policies are important in providing a stable investment environment for investors in ‘green’ cooling technologies,” the DENR said in a statement.
The new policies will affect national standards for flammable refrigerants and energy efficiency. GPI-FCCP will also initiate a high-level training for fifty (50) local engineers, system suppliers, and end-users on the use of innovative cold chain technology that are currently used globally.
As a project assisted by the international funder Global Environment Facility (GEF), the GPI-FCCP also includes the training of two hundred (200) key stakeholders on energy-efficiency and climate-friendly cold chain technologies. These trained stakeholders shall serve as champions in the advocacy to popularize new technologies replacing ODS-HCFCs.
The major implementers of the GPI-FCCP are the DENR and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). The German international cooperation agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) also serves as a co-financer of the project.
Agricultural commodities such as meat, dairy, fish, and a broad range of vegetable crops need cooling and freezing systems while in transit, during storage, and at the display shelves.
Traditional practices using natural cooling could be seen during harvest times in most farms in the Philippines. The lack of access to refrigerated transportation vehicles taught farmers in Northern Luzon that it is best to transport vegetable products to Metro Manila at night, where heat is lesser, and traffic is lighter.
Some known HFC and HCFC alternatives used in Europe include R32 refrigerants tested to have lower global warming potential (GWP), Hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs), and HFC-HFO blends.
A European expert said there is no “cure all” alternative because there are varied safety and thermodynamic properties among refrigerants. Some alternatives do no work well in certain types of products and equipment. Also, geographical locations may affect the efficiency and effectivity of each kind of alternative.
PH compliance to the Montreal Protocol
DENR said the green cold chain project came about as part of the country’s compliance to its commitment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ODS.
The ozone is the earth’s protective layer, absorbing UV light which reduces human’s exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation, said to be the leading cause of skin cancer and cataract.
“ODS includes chlorofluorocarbons, halons, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform, hydrobromofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), methyl bromide, and bromochloromethane,” DENR explained.
Refrigeration technologies have come out as top concern due to low energy efficiency and high global warming potential. Common refrigerants extensively use HCFCs.
The Montreal Protocol compelled signatory countries to freeze consumption and production of the ODS-HCFCs. The treaty also called on developing countries to cut by 100% their HCFC production by 2030.
Private sector engagement will be crucial in the Philippines’ effort in obtaining knowledge transfer of the most innovative, climate friendly, and energy efficient refrigeration technologies, the DENR said.