Revolutionizing the Cold Chain: The ‘-15°C Initiative’ and Its Global Impact on Sustainability

A Pioneering Coalition Leading the Charge in Reducing Carbon Footprint in the Frozen Food Industry
Dec 7, 2023 9:00 AM ET

As the world grapples with the escalating food security crisis exacerbated by climate change, a groundbreaking initiative is emerging. At the forefront of this transformative journey is the “Join the Move to -15°C” campaign, announced and launched by DP World at COP28 earlier this month. This ambitious project is not just another corporate sustainability program; it's a blueprint for the future of global food resources.

Born from the pressing need to address the vulnerabilities in our food supply systems, this initiative represents a new approach in how we manage and transport one of the world's most vital resources: food. With a significant proportion of globally managed goods being food items, the opportunity to innovate in this space is both unique and urgent. The campaign's core objective is to reimagine the cold chain – the process of transporting and storing perishable goods – to bolster food security and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The “-15°C Initiative” is the brainchild of a coalition comprising leading academic institutions like the University of Birmingham’s Sustainable Cooling department, London South Bank University, and the International Institute of Refrigeration. This collaboration underscores the campaign's commitment to research-driven, practical solutions.

By examining the current practices in the cold chain, particularly the standard -18°C temperature for freezing food, the coalition uncovered a significant opportunity for reducing carbon emissions. The solution is seemingly modest yet profoundly impactful: raise the standard temperature of frozen food cold chains by three degrees.

Our extensive research indicates that this adjustment could not only enhance the efficiency of the cold chain but also lead to substantial energy savings and a notable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, this shift could save 5-7% of the energy typically used in freezing food for transport and storage – a figure that translates to an 8.63% reduction in the UK's annual energy consumption and a decrease of 17.7 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.

The significance of the “-15°C Initiative” extends beyond these impressive statistics. It represents a paradigm shift in how industries approach sustainability – not as a solitary endeavor but as a collective, collaborative effort. That's why the launch at COP28 was more than just an announcement; it was a call to action for world leaders and industry peers.

Together, we aim to build a broad coalition that transcends geographical and sectoral boundaries, uniting stakeholders in a shared commitment to a more sustainable future.

This initiative is also a testament to the power of collective action. While we seek to engage world leaders and industry experts, we at DP World will serve as ambassadors of this change, driving awareness and understanding through various channels, including social media, using the hashtag #movetominus15.

As we embark on this journey, it's important to recognize that “Join the Move to -15°C” is more than a campaign; it's a long-term strategy and a critical step towards decarbonizing an entire industry. It's about reshaping the narrative around sustainable trade and food security, demonstrating that through innovation, collaboration, and a shared vision, we can indeed change what's possible.

By rethinking the way in which we freeze food, we are not only addressing a crucial aspect of our carbon footprint but also laying the groundwork for a more resilient, sustainable future. This is a moment for the global community to come together, embrace this change, and make a lasting impact on our planet and its inhabitants.