The temperature-controlled transport of perishable goods has reached a crossroads. The question is whether it is possible to make a refrigerated transport as we know sustainable or should we rather look for more efficient alternatives based on passive cooling. For us the answer is simple, passive cooling solutions are the future.
This will undoubtedly require a complete reconfiguration of the current distribution models based on active cooling. Of course, this will be a difficult step for many industries and companies, but it will definitely pay off for those who make a commitment to change. Both environmental challenges and legal requirements are setting the pace.
Environmental impact of traditional refrigerated transport
To aim for truly sustainable refrigerated transport, we need to understand that active refrigeration or mechanical refrigeration systems require an energy input to operate. This may be fuel or a connection to the electricity grid, but either way, it involves both energy consumption and the generation of polluting waste.
The energy that powers the compressor must come from somewhere, and the waste has to go somewhere. And that is a mayor issue when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint and GHG emissions in urban environments. The effort to reduce the impact of refrigerated vehicles is very laudable but the whole process is too slow and limited in its effectiveness.
Yes to zero-carbon zones, but what about the cold-chain?
If “helping the environment” is not motivating enough, measures to limit mobility in urban areas like low-emission zones and taxes are much more convincing. The entire transport sector is looking for non-polluting or fuel-efficient alternatives: low-emission vehicles, electric vehicles, wide range of “cargo bikes” (bicycles designed for freight transport) etc.
In case of refrigerated transport, including the vehicles with Eco, 0, B or C labels, the main issue is to keep the cooling system running. In order to maintain unbroken cold chain you either have to keep the engine running all the time or obtain a lot of power from the electric batteries. In both cases, consumption, and pollution, direct or indirect, are still there.
Lightweight passive cooling solutions
Thus, the only way to sustainable refrigerated transport is through passive cooling, which does not involve energy consumption. In fact, this is nothing new: we at Tempack have been working with many passive cooling systems based on efficient isolation materials combined with cold packs or dry ice over the years.
We are currently witnessing a boom of passive cooling solutions for frozen & chilled food deliveries. Along with the growth of the last mile distribution sector the expansion of lightweight solutions for small vehicles (from van to tricycle) is particularly significant. The goal is to ensure the unbroken cold chain with less environmental impact, minimum weight and economic cost.
“Smart solutions” for “smart cities”
We at Tempack are proud to be one of the “smart solutions providers”. We believe that it is our environmental responsibility in the face of global warming to go greener.