Put a Door on it

Put a Door on it

19 February, 2016
Energy Saver
Doorless fridges contributing to climate change

Grocery shopping is just about the perfect family activity: everybody needs food, and most families can benefit from the bonding time. Upon entering a supermarket, my dad always lingers at the meat and dairy aisle, pondering which brand of ham and cheese would make the perfect sandwich for a mid-afternoon snack; my mum checks out the yogurts, carefully assessing which item is healthy and on sale; and my sisters and I race to the ice cream or juice sections in search of treats.
The air blasting from the refrigerators is always chilly, making us feel awake and refreshed. And how convenient is it that we don’t even have to extend our arms to pull open a refrigerator door to get to the food? There is no barrier between us and the treats we want in the cold air of the refrigerator.
So what’s the problem? Haven’t I just painted a picture of a pleasant break from the overbearing heat of Hong Kong’s summer?
The fact is, energy consumption used for refrigeration in Hong Kong has increased substantially in recent years due to the prevalence of doorless fridges in retail food stores. Over 70 percent of these stores do not pass WWF’s “Fridge territory-wide System Assessment,” which measures the “fridge with door ratio” (i.e., the number of fridges with vs. without doors).
And it turns out, fridges without doors are wasting a lot more energy than fridges that are enclosed. Research from WWF shows that there are over 18,000 doorless fridges in the city’s grocery stores, and that one doorless fridge alone consumes up to 5,000 kWh of electricity annually. If businesses were to enclose all of their fridges, Hong Kong would reduce its yearly carbon emissions by a staggering total of 51,000 tonnes.
While conducting a survey of 85,000 refrigerators in 640 stores and markets between October 2015 and January 2016, WWF researchers discovered that under half (48 percent) had doors. Since 2015, WWF has been working with grocery retailers to explore solutions while encouraging retailers to install doors or curtains on their display refrigerators and to phase out doorless fridges on a definite schedule.
And it looks like WWF’s advice has been well received. 7-Eleven, for example, responded by making its goal to install fridge doors in all its branches by the first half of 2016. Positive feedback has also been received from other major retail stores such as 759 Store and AEON, showing their recognition of the need to phase out doorless fridges.
This is great news for Hong Kong. Who knew that a simple refrigerator door might reduce Hong Kong’s power usage, lower carbon emissions, store food more safely and possibly retard the onrush of climate change?

By: Cynthia Chung


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