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PepsiCo is trialing a new refrigeration system in its vending machines with one that contains carbon dioxide instead of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

“This field test will help us evaluate the performance and reliability of these new machines in a real-world environment,” said PepsiCo’s vice president of packaging and equipment development, Robert Lewis.

HFCs are greenhouse gases more potent at trapping solar radiation than carbon dioxide, and are now considered responsible for 17 percent of human-caused global warming.

Only 5 percent of a vending machine’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the coolant that it uses. The other 95 percent of the machine’s emissions come from the electricity that it uses.

Pepsi is trialing 30 different vending machines in the Washington, D.C. area, all of them featuring a special green label. The company said that it has also been working to improve the energy efficiency of its machines, with 2008 models using 44 percent less energy than 2004 models and 52 percent less energy than 2003 models.

The cola company is not the first to experiment with non-HFC-based refrigeration. Coca-Cola and Unilever have also trialed the technology in the United States, while Unilever has already put two million Ben & Jerry’s ice creams vending freezers into circulation around the world. Wal-Mart uses non-HFC refrigeration in one of its Canadian stores.

China’s largest maker of refrigerators has started making fridges without HFCs, as have one Japanese company and Western companies Whirlpool and Miele. A total of 300 million home refrigerators around the world currently operate without using HFCs.

In the United States, however, such devices have not been approved for commercial use by the Environmental Protection Agency. Before companies such as Pepsi, Unilever or Whirlpool can start putting HFC-free freezers or vending machines into wide circulation, the agency must certify the technology as both safe and effective.

Sources for this story include: www.foodnavigator-usa.com.

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