Thousands of retailers could face fines of up to £200,000 if they fail to comply with upcoming legislation on environmentally harmful refrigerants used in store chillers.
The fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-Gas) regulation was introduced in 2015 and was designed to phase out the harmful chemicals. Its latest phase will prohibit the use of R404A and R401A gases in chillers from 2020.
Simon Robinson, managing director of chiller manufacturer Pastor Frigor, said replacement costs vary depending on each chiller, but warned retailers could face other losses. “F-gas regulation is a huge issue that will affect thousands of retailers,” he said.
After the 2020 date, retailers can still use chillers bought before the ban and contain these gases, but professional repair work will be illegal until they are replaced with a more environmentally-friendly alternative.
“It’s dependent on their range, but retailers should consider the impact on fresh and chilled sales should they be unable to repair broken chillers,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said it wants to penalise businesses that do not change fridges or refrigerants. Proposed fines range from £1,000 for retailers failing to report chillers containing illegal gases to £200,000 for disobeying official warning notices.
Ray Gluckman, of refrigeration consultancy Gluckman Consulting, warned: “Stores that have been in business for more than four years are at the highest risk of being non-compliant.”
Awareness among retailers about F-Gas regulation varies. Ramsey Hasaballa, who opened his Premier store in Liverpool a year ago, said he was not aware of the legislation.
However, Raaj Chandarana, of Tara’s Londis in High Wycombe, said: “I refitted my shop towards the end of last year and was made aware of F-Gas by my chiller engineer.”
Figures from the Association of Convenience Stores suggest more than 36,000 independent retailers operate a chiller.