How do we reduce the carbon footprint of frozen food home delivery?

Recent months have shown growth in frozen food home delivery. As we all become increasingly aware of the carbon footprint of our food, what can be done to make home delivery of frozen food more sustainable?

Experts say frozen produce actually has a lower carbon footprint than fresh, mostly due to less food waste at home. One-third of food worldwide ends up in the bin, and fresh fruits and vegetables are often our biggest culprits.

Figures for the refrigeration at the food manufacturing, retailing and domestic stages total about 2.4% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. A significant portion are most likely emitted during the production and storage elements of the supply chain. There are also simple gains to be made by focusing specifically on the delivery of the product.

Transport

Advances are being made into the feasibility of using electric vehicles for local food deliveries. Minimisation of weight and power consumption are key concerns and the elimination of mechanical refrigeration presents a big opportunity. Dry Ice Scotland have been working with many vehicle manufacturers to explore the potential for using sustainable packaging and carbon neutral dry ice as an alternative to electric or diesel driven refrigeration.

Packaging

Traditionally, hydrocarbon-based materials have been used for packaging of home delivery chilled and frozen products. Insulation properties of these materials are fantastic and advances in recyclability make them a feasible solution. There are gains to be made if we can take the onus of recycling away from the consumer with comparable performance. Dry Ice Scotland are working with packaging manufacturers to develop and test sustainable materials that can be used alongside carbon neutral dry ice to achieve similar performance to traditional materials. Preliminary results are shown below:

 

 

 

Packaging Material Refrigerant Used Duration below 3C
30mm EPS Carbon neutral dry ice 56 hours
30mm EPS Ice packs 24 hours
Cardboard-based insulator Carbon neutral dry ice 48 hours
Cardboard-based insulator Ice packs 12 hours

 

Refrigeration

Frozen packs of water are becoming commonplace for chilled deliveries as they have a low carbon footprint and are easily disposed by the consumer. However, they can present weight issues and are not suitable for frozen food.

Dry ice is an increasingly popular choice for frozen delivery refrigeration as it can be scaled up/down depending on delivery size, does not need to be disposed by the consumer as it disappears during transit and outperforms traditional ice packs on temperature performance. In 2021 Dry Ice Scotland are launching a world-first initiative to produce carbon neutral dry ice that will have carbon mitigation strategies at every point of the supply chain, from CO2 capture, liquefaction and dry ice production.

Dry Ice Scotland is the largest independent dry ice producer in the UK, supplying bulk dry ice to the food delivery and pharmaceutical sectors.