The event – organised by the Japan Environmental Management Association for Industry (JEMAI) and Nikkei Inc. – proved to be a valuable educational tool for the many elementary and high school students in attendance, who learned of a wide variety of actions and ideas to aid the global environment.
It was only fitting, therefore, that R744.com and Accelerate Japan were on the ground to report on major developments for the natural refrigerant industry – with 7-Eleven speaking out about its use of CO2 for the very first time.
Japan’s biggest convenience store (CVS) chain 7-Eleven – also one of the world’s largest – had previously kept relatively quiet as to its corporate policy and activities on refrigeration. That all changed on the first day of Eco-Products 2015, when the Group shed light on its experience of installing its first 150 CO2 stores in 2014 and 2015 – undertaken with the help of Japanese Ministry of Environment subsidies.
Meanwhile, compressor manufacturer Sanden showcased some of its new CO2 technology while Coca-Cola displayed its CO2 peak shift vending machine.
7-Eleven’s announcement: a ground-breaking moment
On the first day, Seven-Eleven Japan, which boasted more than 18,000 stores as of end-November 2015), shared its experiences of the adoption and benefits of CO2 technology in a presentation entitled, ‘Environmentally friendly natural refrigerant (CO2) stores― Actions of 7-Eleven Japan’.
Under the Environment Ministry’s subsidy programme for energy-saving natural refrigerant showcases, 7-Eleven has introduced 150 CO2 CVS since 2014 – the Group’s first such stores. The company’s first public announcement of this at EcoProducts should be seen by the industry as a ground-breaking moment and a signal of more to come.
7-Eleven outlined the possibility of installing CO2 refrigeration in all its model store showcases in future, without committing to specific CVS numbers or target years. The global presence of the 7-Eleven Group and its broad range of store formats – ranging from CVS to big supermarkets – shows the huge scale of this potential introduction of CO2 technology. In Japan alone, the Group installs around 1,500 CVS per year (including re-modelled stores).
CO2: environment-friendly, energy-efficient and safe
The 7-Eleven presentation showcased the Group’s wide range of refrigeration equipment, which can all be equipped with CO2 technology. This includes open cases, refrigerated walk-in cases, ice cream cases, island-style chilled cases, energy drink cases, and reach-in freezers. The company also suggested that the adoption of CO2 systems leads to smaller and quieter refrigeration systems, as well as lower energy consumption. In short: the company hailed CO2 as an environment friendly, energy efficient and safe refrigerant.
Coke poised to convert almost 1 million vending machines to CO2 by 2020
Today, there are approximately 2.5 million beverage vending machines in Japan. Market research conducted by shecco reveals that about a million of them have shifted to natural refrigerants already. The Coca-Cola Company, which has the biggest share in the industry and has committed to introducing natural refrigerant CO2 to all 980,000 of its Japanese vending machines by 2020, showcased its CO2 peak-shift vending machines at the Environment Ministry’s ‘Cool Choice’ booth – named after a nationwide campaign to promote ‘smart choices’ in tackling global warming launched on 1 July 2015.
Meanwhile, the Coca Cola Company drew attention to its receipt of a prestigious government-backed award at the 18th ‘Protect the Ozone Layer, Prevent Global Warming Grand Prizes’ in October, awarded in recognition of its promotion of natural refrigerants and phase-out of HFCs.
Sanden spreading CO2 solutions across sectors
Sanden Holdings – a leading manufacturer of products using CO2 as a refrigerant – showcased its latest offerings, including a compact CO2 hot/cool showcase for beverages and an innovative coffee vending machine called Forest Café.
Specifically designed to target Japanese CVS stores opening in Japan in the coming months, the coffee vending machine has already sold 1,000 units on the domestic market since its launch in August 2015. The machine uses CO2 as a refrigerant to produce ice. Also on display was Sanden’s CO2 heat pump water heater, designed for the European market and not yet available in Japan.
Sanden’s booth was separated into four areas: a CO2 laboratory, a technology laboratory, a product laboratory and a forest school, providing visitors with a multidimensional understanding of the company’s environmental actions and product concepts.
The CO2 section featured walls embodying the concept of an ‘atmosphere’, in which visitors saw chemical symbols hanging in the air to symbolise CO2’s safe and natural occurrence in the atmosphere.