Fridges and freezers

Rigid polyurethane insulating foam makes a major contribution to sustainability and eco-design by reducing the energy required to keep refrigerators and freezers cold.

Almost all refrigerators and freezers and most refrigerated trucks produced worldwide are insulated with polyurethane foams because they are:

  • excellent insulators
  • structurally strong thanks to the rigidity of the foam and adhesion of external skins (plastic and metal)
  • the most cost-effective manufacturing solution, with multiple operations combined into one
  • effective in confined spaces, allowing the maximum amount of food to be stored
  • safe
  • robust and strong
  • very light, thus reducing transportation costs
  • affordable, keeping the costs of refrigerators and freezers down

This means that ever more stringent energy standards can be met, with benefits to the consumer through lower energy bills and a reduction in energy used. As shown below, EU energy efficiency initiatives have resulted in considerable energy savings since 1990.

Lower energy consumption due to polyurethane use

The graph below illustrates just how much energy has been saved in European households by the use of polyurethanes:

According to the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive 2002/96/EC, "white goods" such as refrigerators and freezers are subject to recovery and recycling targets across Europe. Foam from the appliances can be extracted and either recycled or used as fuel, depending on national infrastructures, further helping to conserve natural resources.

Polyurethanes thus play a crucial role in the energy-efficient transportation and preservation of our food, ensuring that it reaches our tables fit for consumption. More information on the use of polyurethanes in the cold food chain.