The small matter of the Ecodesign Directive is never too far from refrigeration suppliers’ minds these days, but before any energy efficiency standards come into force there is still a lot that the EU and the catering industry to agree on.
The European Federation of Catering Equipment Manufacturers (EFCEM) has just submitted a 1,900-word document to Brussels, giving its feedback on the first set of draft proposals that were recently-announced.
Here, we pick out some of the key points relating to refrigerated cabinets, the largest category of refrigeration products potentially affected by the directive.
EFCEM believes confusion will be caused in the market by the use of terms which do not reflect current understanding of suppliers and customers. It therefore proposes that ‘Commercial Equipment’ should be referred to as ‘Retail Refrigeration Equipment’ and ‘Professional Equipment’ should be referred to as ‘Commercial Refrigeration Equipment’.
EFCEM insists that manufacturers already invest heavily in building products that do not lead to environmental degradation or contravene health and safety directives. “Therefore the incremental increase in both cost and time consequences to business should not be underestimated from any proposed legislation,” says Keith Warren, technical committee chairman at EFCEM and director of CESA.
EFCEM also notes that the sector is heavily dominated by SMEs that are flexible in their production approach to suit customer requirements, leading to a high number of variant models. At least two brands produce between 150 and 250 different commercial lines, prompting EFCEM to warn that the cost of testing every model could have a negative bearing on future investment in R&D.
It is conceivable that equipment may have to perform in ambient temperatures of 30-35C°, be sited next to prime cooking equipment or face situations where doors are left open for extended periods of time.
“Recognising these issues, responsible manufacturers see high performance is an essential requirement with a resultant increase in energy consumption to be able to cope with these conditions,” says Warren. “Any regulation must ensure that the performance of the equipment to the standards demanded by the food service industry is not compromised.”
EFCEM says the proposed MEPS are not reflective of the whole range of equipment available and could exclude 75% of products currently placed on the market, which it says is “clearly unacceptable”. It has urged the Commission to use information provided by the Italian Government’s National Institute for Technical, Energy and sustainable Economic Development and the four leading Italian manufacturers.
Not only would future changes in refrigerant usage lead to further variants in equipment groups — impacting the creation of an energy efficiency strategy — but the refrigerant gas market tends to be driven by chemical companies. “As a result the nature of refrigerants available in future is likely to change and may be outside the direct control of the refrigeration companies. However, they would have to undertake the cost of testing new products using the new gases,” says Warren.