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Refrigerators & Coolers

Navigation: Minimum Sustainable Recommendations | What are the Issues? | What are the Options? 

Did you know… ENERGY STAR certified commercial glass door refrigerators can save businesses 400 kWh and $40 annually, and $420 on utility bills over the product's lifetime? (Energy Star website)

Minimum Sustainable Recommendations

Every appliance comes with two price tags:  the purchase price and the cost of operating the product.  ENERGY STAR certified appliances help purchasers save money on operating costs by reducing energy use without sacrificing performance.  When purchasing include the below requirements:

  • Appliances shall be ENERGY STAR certified, using the most recent version of the ENERGY STAR certification system in effect at the time of bid submission or,
  • The appliance must be below the maximum daily energy consumption requirement as defined in the most recent version of the Energy Star criteria for Commercial Refrigerators & Freezers
    • The vendor must provide the kWh per day rating for the appliance.
    • The kWh/day rating provided must be in- reference to the design set point temperature for the appliance.
  • Show preference for the selection of appliances containing low Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants.
  • Bidders shall notify purchasers of any available take back service for reuse, refurbishment, and or recycling for purchased appliances, including information on how to use this service.
    • When replacing equipment, affected entities should work with the Contractor during the purchasing process to evaluate available trade-in options regardless of manufacturer. Contractors are encouraged to offer programs that include take-back or trade-in, and proper environmental disposal of equipment (including equipment manufactured and sold by others). Trade-in value/cost of take-back shall be determined on an individual basis.
    • If the appliances must be disposed of, the vendor will be required to remove and dispose in accordance with Manitoba’s Ozone Depleting Substances and Other Halocarbons Regulation. 
  • Offer minimal packaging 
    • Appliances should be delivered using reusable blankets or placed in cardboard with a minimum of 30% post-consumer recycled content.
    • The supplier should take back the packaging for reuse, recycling or recovery.
  • In keeping with provincial commitments to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste production, the vendor should be encouraged to develop sustainable delivery strategies:
  1. Product delivery consolidations
  2. Efficient transportation logistics
  3. Proper route planning
  4. No idling of vehicles during product delivery
  5. Use of fuel efficient delivery vehicles

Other Things to Consider

  • Prior to buying refrigerators and coolers, make sure you are buying the right size of equipment for the space
    • Ensure space requirements are adequate for accessibility (e.g. wheel chair accessibility)
  • Avoid appliances with unnecessary features or gadgets (this will help reduce the chance of breaking down and lower initial cost)

What are the issues?

While we are fortunate to have hydro-electricity in Manitoba helping to minimize the amount of carbon emissions from appliances, it is important to conserve energy use and reduce costs associated with their operation.  The Efficiency Manitoba Act encourages government and businesses to purchase energy efficient equipment and support demand side management of energy. 

In addition to energy consumption, there are a number of other environmental concerns associated with the manufacture and disposal for refrigeration units.

Cooling appliances manufactured before 1995 and still in use contain refrigerants known as ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) and if accidentally released from the appliance impact the ozone and absorb atmospheric energy making them potent greenhouse gases (GHGs). The use of refrigerants defined as ODSs have gradually been prohibited through international protocols.  Unfortunately, the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which are used as refrigerants in many of the equipment in use today are still potent GHGs. Manufacturers are developing new refrigerants that do not harm the ozone and minimize carbon emissions, these are called low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants

There are other hazardous components in refrigerators and coolers including oil and mercury. For example, the cooling circuit contains oil that can be contaminated with ODS refrigerant. Some refrigerators and chest freezers manufactured prior to 2000 have mercury-containing components (i.e., switches and relays). Appliances manufactured prior to 1979 may also contain PCB capacitors.

For these reasons ordinary recycling is not enough!  Disposing of old appliances should be done by facilities that can safely remove the hazardous components prior to shredding and recycling to protect the environment and human health.

What are the options?

New refrigerators, coolers and freezers can be selected that have a reduced environmental footprint.

ENERGY STAR certification, a third-party certification awarded to product that meet specific energy and water use criteria established by the ENERGY STAR program is available for commercial refrigerators, coolers and freezers.

In addition, the use of hazardous components such as ODS, mercury and oils in the manufacture of these appliances has been greatly reduced and suppliers/manufacturers often offer take-back programs to ensure the appliances are properly disposed of at end-of life.  Purchasers can support manufacturers that are minimizing the environmental impacts by requesting equipment that is energy efficient, uses low GWP refrigerants, and minimized hazardous substances.

The use of appliance take-back services ensures that appliances that have reached the end of their useful life have been recycled, re-purposed or reused.  Recycling is the most widely used option because of the value of the steel processed by the recycling industry.

The specification and information above are in alignment with the Waste Reduction and Prevention Act and The Climate and Green Plan Act.


Last updated: April 2019

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