Lawson – which boasts some 12,000 stores across Japan – is already the country’s number one retailer in terms of adopting natural refrigerants. CO2 refrigeration has been standard in all new Lawson stores since September 2014.
Japan’s three largest convenience store chains – Lawson, 7-Eleven and Family Mart – all have CVS that use CO2 technology. Currently, around 4% of the three retailers’ 41,000+ stores in Japan use CO2 as the refrigerant.
This proportion is expected to increase dramatically in future, as indicated by the startling pace at which Lawson is adopting CO2 for CVS.
“Realising that we could make a far more positive impact on the environment by replacing f-gas refrigerants than taking energy saving measures, we launched a study group to further look into CO2 as a refrigerant,” said Lawson’s energy manager, Shinichirou Uto.
“Instead of taking multiple measures, we want to leapfrog [HFCs], and this why we have decided to adopt CO2 technology,” Uto said.
Government subsidies driving uptake of CO2
The Japanese Ministry of Environment (MOE) is taking various steps to actively combat rising HFC emissions in the retail refrigeration sector. The main way to achieve this is by providing subsidies for food retail refrigeration systems and showcases. For the current Japanese fiscal year, the MOE has allocated JPY 7.3 billion (€57.3 million).
“We face the challenge of the high cost of new [CO2] systems. Without government support, it would be difficult for us to install this many systems,” said Lawson’s Uto.
In 2015 the subsidy supported 557 individual commercial refrigeration installations in Japan, up from 409 in 2014. The number of companies aided was 23 and 24 in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
By 2016, the decision to adopt CO2 refrigeration had already reduced Lawson’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by 40,000 tonnes of CO2e.