The biggest challenge and opportunity facing the industry


15 April 2024


Transforming the cooling industry into a true 'circular economy' that works hand-in-glove with new equipment supply is the biggest challenge and greatest opportunity facing the sector, according to Green Point UK, BITZER UK's specialist services arm.


"The current focus is understandably on decarbonisation through energy efficiency and moving away from high global warming potential refrigerants," says Will Pribyl, General Manager of Green Point UK. "However, this is part of a bigger picture now emerging – the move to a genuine circular economy, where new equipment suppliers integrate recycling and reuse of products as part of a unified approach – conserving materials, extending life, and minimising carbon throughout the product lifecycle.”

BITZER UK and Green Point UK are in the vanguard of this approach, being the only compressor supplier in the UK to operate an integrated remanufacturing facility to process end-of-life systems for return as-new to the market.

The company believes this approach, adopted more widely, will eventually revolutionise the industry by extending product lifecycles, reducing environmental impact, and ultimately leading to a more sustainable and efficient use of resources.

As the world wakes up to the environmental and economic benefits of this approach, people are beginning to question the wisdom of disposable high-cost components, such as hermetic compressors. The spotlight is now also falling on equipment and systems.


The year of retrofit

BESA, the HVACR contractors' body, has called for a paradigm shift towards refurbishing existing equipment, and urged the government to “make 2024 the year of retrofit”.

Content continues after advertisements

A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) comparison between new and remanufactured compressors reveals the dramatic differences in embodied carbon. For example, a new 20hp semi-hermetic compressor has a carbon footprint of 1590kg CO2e, whereas a remanufactured version of the same compressor ranges from 110 to 168kg CO2e*, around one-tenth that of a new unit.

This sharp contrast underscores the potential for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through remanufacturing and repair, rather than disposal of end-of-life compressors.

Will Pribyl: "These figures aren't just numbers, they represent a clear, measurable environmental benefit. By choosing remanufacturing, we're able to save up to 1480kg CO2e per compressor, and even higher values for larger units. This is a testament to the tangible benefits that circular economy principles can have for the environment.

"There will always be situations where new equipment is required, whether for technical, logistics or other reasons. However, when it is possible to reuse and recycle, and it makes economic sense to do so, there is a strong argument that this should be the default solution."

Kevin Glass: "As we move away from high GWP refrigerants, it's now imperative to also focus on how we can make the entire lifecycle of our products more sustainable. The principles of the circular economy offer a roadmap for achieving this.”