Where sustainability matters: F-Gas Exit Programme at METRO

02 July 2024

Use of environmentally friendly refrigerants makes an important contribution to achieving climate neutrality in business operations by 2040

Cooling system Pleven, METRO Bulgaria
Refrigeration system in METRO Store Pleven, Bulgaria

Fluorinated gases ("F-gases") are used in many classic refrigeration systems due to their good cooling performance, both in simple refrigerators for private use and in refrigeration or freezer systems in the commercial sector, which are found in large numbers in our stores and depots. The problem is that F-gases are classified as greenhouse gases and are extremely harmful to the climate. This especially is shown by the CO2 equivalent: one kilogramme of refrigerant has the same effect as around 4,000 kilogrammes of CO2. With 16 per cent, refrigerants are the second largest source of CO2 emissions across the group after electricity consumption. The conversion of the cooling systems is therefore a central building block within METRO's sustainability strategy and for achieving the ambition of being climate-neutral in business operations by 2040.

For this reason, METRO launched the F-Gas Exit Programme over 10 years ago. All refrigeration systems in the approximately 700 stores and depots worldwide are gradually being converted to natural refrigerants such as ammonia, CO2 or hydrocarbons or - especially in the case of older systems - replaced.

The programme comprises three pillars:

  1. Refrigeration system logbook: all relevant data is recorded here, including the specific refrigeration system and the type and quantity of refrigerant used. The ambition is to create transparency about the order of magnitude of refrigerant consumption.
  2. Repair and maintenance: Uniformly high maintenance standards should be guaranteed worldwide. This is not only relevant for cost reasons, but is also necessary for environmental reasons. Harmful chemicals that are released through improper handling must be avoided. As a global company, METRO has a responsibility to minimise emissions and protect the environment.
  3. Core exit: Existing facilities that currently use F-gas will be converted to natural refrigerants. This standard is complied with worldwide, regardless of the location of the facility - whether in Kazakhstan, Germany or Spain.

In total, more than 50 per cent of all METRO stores and depots have currently been converted to systems of natural refrigerants. In the course of the year, Moldova will be the first country to work exclusively with transcritical CO2 refrigeration, i.e. the waste heat from the system will be used for hot water and heating of buildings at the same time. In addition, France, Slovakia and Portugal will also achieve this in the next two years.

More information on our METRO AG website or in the Corporate Responsibility KPI Report