sustainable Coolers of the future

A BIER-led Initiative to reduce the environmental impact of commercial refrigeration equipment in the beverage industry.

about sustainable coolers coolition

Beginning in 2021 the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) began working to reduce the environmental impact of beverage industry commercial refrigeration equipment, recognizing that sustainability is our business, and using our scale and partnership to drive meaningful positive change.

Today BIER has coalesced a collaboration, the BIER Coolition, consisting of BIER members, refrigeration equipment manufacturers and component suppliers, to drive change on three fronts:

Standards and Legislation – aiming to standardize performance testing procedures to drive adoption of higher efficiency equipment. This includes research into local legislation and regulatory requirements mandated in various territories around the globe in relation to equipment as well as research into (sometimes producer-specific) standards and requirements.

Circularity – building understanding and capacity to drive refurbishment and reuse of equipment and components by benchmarking other industries and investigating the current status of commercial refrigeration circularity in various regions around the world.

Energy Efficiency and Innovation – increasing end customer awareness/total cost of ownership considerations to influence adoption of environmentally preferable equipment. Cooperating to find solutions that help cold drink equipment and component manufacturers mitigate potential cost impacts & bottlenecks that could hinder the deployment of new energy efficient, renewable energy and circular technologies​.


About the Cool Challenge

During the Coolition Conference in 2023, a groundbreaking Innovation Competition was held, hosted by Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable’s (BIER) Coolition. We invited passionate innovators to revolutionize commercial refrigeration related to chilled, canned or bottled beverages at their point of sale and shape a sustainable future for the industry.

The competition featured six captivating categories:

  1. Radical Change in Energy Efficiency: Unleash your game-changing ideas using cutting-edge technologies to redefine current energy efficiency levels
  2. Incremental Change in Energy Efficiency: Optimize energy efficiency by leveraging existing compressor technology and pushing boundaries
  3. Retro-fit Solution for Improvement in Energy Efficiency: Transform existing and/or future cooling systems with retrofit solutions that boost energy efficiency and sustainability
  4. Circularity: Showcase innovative solutions that promote circularity in commercial refrigeration, minimizing waste and maximizing resource conservation
  5. Business Model: Recognizing groundbreaking business models driving sustainability and transforming the future of commercial refrigeration
  6. Overall Best Solution: Grand stage for visionary thinkers! Present comprehensive solutions encompassing energy efficiency, sustainability, circularity, and more

In total 22 innovative pitches were submitted by 21 companies and 12 pitches were shortlisted to be pitched during the Coolition Conference in 2023. The innovative pitches highlighted impact, feasibility and implementation strategies of their innovations. The winners of the six categories gained recognition and connected with global industry leaders along the commercial refrigeration value chain.

Join us in this exciting journey to reshape commercial refrigeration, reduce environmental impact, and pave the way for a cooler, greener future!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the importance of beverage producers to cooperate with refrigeration manufacturers and beyond?

In short: making the supply and value chain more sustainable and achieving sustainability goals. The beverage industry is highly dependent on refrigeration system suppliers for its refrigeration needs. Today, however, the needs are no longer just about cooling, but also about sustainability. Beverage producers purchase refrigeration equipment for their products that are widely distributed in different regions of the world and are a major point of interaction with users of their products. There are still steps to be taken in the field of making cooling equipment more sustainable (both with regard to circularity and energy consumption), and discussions have started between the beverage producers and cooling equipment manufacturers for this purpose. The idea is that more can be achieved together than alone. In 2022, the Cool BIER Conference took place, during which an open discussion took place on various topics between the beverage producers and cooling equipment manufacturers present, of course within Anti-Trust frameworks. Among other things, it was agreed to set up a value chain coalition (the Coolition) so that not every beverage producer or cooling equipment manufacturers (or other party in the beverage sector) has to reinvent the wheel. The next link in the supply and value chain that was discussed was the supplier of cooling equipment components. To facilitate the sustainability requirements, which require a systemic change, we need a collaboration in the value chain, hence the Coolition with different work streams that bring together and facilitate this systemic change.

What is the purpose of the competition?

To boost innovation for sustainability in the commercial refrigeration industry, which has – as some say – not seen significant innovation since the change in refrigerants. The need for alignment and a push on sustainability comes from both sides. Existing refrigeration equipment manufacturers cannot always deliver the-for-drink suppliers desired sustainable (circular and/or energy-efficient) refrigeration equipment due to various factors. Interviews with refrigeration equipment manufacturers show that one of the challenges for them is to create the desired cooling equipment if one has to meet several different energy and/or material requirements (due to legal country/regional requirements or different requirements per beverage producer). For example, this is one of the topics we are working on in the Coolition with the various parties in the value chain: is it desirable and possible to harmonise these energy requirements?

More and more parties in the beverage sector are mapping out their value chain in the field of circularity and energy consumption in order to take steps where possible (mandatory or not). So are the beverage producers, cooling equipment manufacturers and manufacturers of cooling equipment components. That is why challenging the market by means of the Cool Challenge is not only important for beverage producers, but also for others who want/have to take steps. The ‘cost of inaction’ certainly applies here, not only for cooling equipment (component) manufacturers, but also for the beverage producers.

The prize is a pilot with one or more beverage producers. This sounds like limited commitment. Why?

Our aim is to bring together partners across the value chain. The prize involves getting in touch with market leaders, getting recognition and a pilot with one or more beverage suppliers. The innovation competition has been vetted by a competition law lawyer on competition compliance. An open innovation competition with a chance to scale up a submitted proposal is, besides being legally permissible, a first move towards the market. Depending on the proposals submitted, this also allows the commitment to scale up. We believe the networking opportunities along with the recognition provided by the competition will certainly result in pilots.

Who will evaluate the competition?

We are in the process of selecting judges in the beverage sector to evaluate the competition. Furthermore, we are looking for judges outside of the industry to bring in an external, fresh perspective. Additionally, a company cannot submit ideas for a category when it is taking a seat in the jury.

With whom exactly is the information provided by the participants shared?

The submitted proposals are shared with the parties that are members of the Coolition (for names, see slide 3 of the Cool Challenge), the facilitating organization (BIER) and any external jury members. All members of the Coolition have signed an Anti-Trust Policy, which will also be signed by any external judges. Confidential information must be clearly designated by the participants of the Cool Challenge and participants may request non-disclosure agreements if necessary.

Why does the competition have five mutually exclusive categories? How does a company whose technology operates in multiple categories decide into which one to apply?

Sustainable development is a process, in which every step counts. Ideally, you have the one integral solution that ticks all the boxes. However, in reality, we see it usually takes some extra steps. There are several ideas, for example in circularity, that do not necessarily provide an energy efficiency improvement, yet may be interesting to explore. You can either apply with the same idea for multiple categories or go for the overall best solution category.

What is the difference between incremental and transformational change?

To illustrate the difference between incremental and transformational change: incremental change refers to improvements in the current compressor technology; transformational change refers not to compressor technology, but to a totally different way of cooling.

The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) is a technical coalition of leading global beverage companies working together to advance environmental sustainability within the beverage sector. Formed in 2006, BIER is a common voice across the beverage sector, speaking to influence global standards on environmental sustainability aspects most relevant to the sector, affect change both up and down the supply chain and share best practices that raise the bar for environmental performance of the industry. By doing so, BIER is able to monitor data and trends, engage with key stakeholders, develop best practices, and guide a course of action for the future.

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