After opening its first CO2 transcritical store in the Alentejo port city of Sines, Portuguese cash and carry chain Recheio plans to be HFC-free – meaning 100% natural refrigerants – by 2030. Accelerate Europe reports.

Recheio Cash & Carry, S.A. is the biggest cash-and-carry chain operating in Portugal, with 40 stores currently in its portfolio.

“We want to be HFC-free – meaning 100% natural refrigerants – by 2030,” says Angela Soares, the firm’s chief operations officer (COO).

“Our main milestone was in 2016, when we opened our first CO2 transcritical store, in Sines,” Soares says.

Founded in Figueira da Foz in Portugal in 1972, today Recheio is owned by Jerónimo Martins, a Portuguese retail giant that also operates the Pingo Doce supermarket chain.

Soares has been with the Jerónimo Martins group for 22 years. After 10 years at Recheio, she changed to Pingo Doce for the following decade, the final two years of which she spent in Madeira. She returned to the mainland to take up the role of Recheio COO two years ago.

Portuguese contractor Hiperfrio made the Sines installation in summer 2016. At the system’s heart is a CO2 transcritical rack from Advansor.

“The rack is used for refrigeration, space heating, and space cooling – using water,” says Joana Costa, Advansor’s regional technical manager for Portugal and Spain. “It also serves the store’s heating needs, even in winter.”

“Everything we’re doing is about moving towards that goal of using 100% natural refrigerants by 2030.

Angela Soares, Recheio

Back in Portuguese capital Lisbon, Accelerate Europe sits down with Recheio’s Soares at the firm’s headquarters to find out more about how natural refrigerants are playing a central role in delivering the firm’s sustainability targets.

“We’re innovating. It’s about finding the best technology solutions, both for the environment and for our customers,” Soares says. “It’s about everything, from lighting to refrigeration racks.”

“This philosophy affects every decision we make, from investing in electrical machinery to lithium batteries,” Soares explains. “Everything helps, however small.”

“Everything we’re doing is about moving towards that goal of using 100% natural refrigerants by 2030,” she says.

Recheio operates 40 cash and carry stores in Portugal. So what is the strategy for delivering its target of moving to 100% natural refrigerants for all its heating and cooling needs?

“It’s a journey. We’re not opening many new stores, and obviously we’re not refurbishing all 40 of our existing stores at the same time,” Soares says.

The opening of the Sines store in 2016 – the first Recheio store to be fitted with a CO2 transcritical system – therefore represented a crucial marker in this voyage of discovery.

“We’re going step-by-step towards our goal,” says Soares.

Next on the agenda is the imminent commissioning of Recheio’s first CO2 transcritical system to be fitted with an ejector. The store is located in suburban Lisbon in the parish of Corroios, south of the city centre on the opposite bank of the Targus River.

Click here to read the full version of this story in the spring 2018 edition of Accelerate Europe.

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