IIR document

Low emissivity food packaging for more efficient refrigeration and carbon saving.

Author(s) : DAVIES G., MAIDMENT G., MAN D., et al.


Supermarkets are large consumers of energy in the UK and approximately 50% is used to cool open type display cabinets. Earlier work at Unilever Research Laboratory in the 1970s indicated that by applying low emissivity (i.e. high reflectance) materials in food packaging, the heat load and temperature of foods stored in open display refrigerated cabinets could be substantially reduced. One disadvantage was that it was difficult to print on the surface of these materials without reducing their reflective properties. This paper presents an update of the Unilever study, in terms of the potential of modern, low emissivity food packaging materials for improving refrigeration system efficiency. Developments in packaging technology and the use of modern manufacturing processes have overcome the earlier disadvantages of these materials, permitting printing onto the external surfaces of low emissivity packaging, while still retaining its reflective properties. The results of the new study show that some types of packaging will enable an increase in refrigerator operating temperature of up to 10 K to be achieved, with no loss of refrigeration performance with respect to the food. This will result in improved refrigeration system efficiency, with reductions of up to 30% in both energy consumption and carbon emissions and a significant increase in shelf life for stored foods. In addition, the embodied carbon for the packaging and the life cycle impact of its use, have been evaluated. Packaging having a low embodied energy content has been identified, and it has been calculated that significant net savings in both carbon and energy are possible over the life cycle.

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Pages: 2010-1


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  • Original title: Low emissivity food packaging for more efficient refrigeration and carbon saving.
  • Record ID : 2010-0810
  • Languages: English
  • Source: 1st IIR International Conference on Sustainability and the Cold Chain
  • Publication date: 2010/03/29


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