Sustainable Cold-Chain Systems for Food Resilience

Project Background

The environmental impact of the food and drink sector is huge, accounting for 190 million m3 of water per year, 12MT of food waste, 24% of anthropogenic carbon emission and 28% of UK road freight by tonnage. Food refrigeration is estimated to be responsible for 2-4% of the UKs total GHG emissions1. 

In particular, cold-chains for the supply of fresh and frozen food have significant greenhouse gas impacts.  However, the detailed data on cold-chain impacts has not been systematically collated in recent years.  This is vital to inform policy to allow us to reach net-zero by 2050.  

This project will provide :

  • A comprehensive evidence driven carbon emissions baseline for the food cold chain in the UK 
  • Predicted emissions to 2050 assuming a business as usual scenario 
  • Roadmap showing the pathway to deliver zero carbon by 2050 that is feasible and financially viable for the food cold chain

Research Questions

  • What and how are we to define UK (food) cold chain? 
  • What is the future CO2 emission of cold chain with the current trend? 
  • What interventions, in the form of financial and regulatory frameworks, are needed to meet zero carbon cold chain? 


  • Benchmarking the sustainable cold chains (SCC) 
  • Forecasting energy and 2050 CO2 emission of SCC 
  • System design and decarbonisation strategies of SCC 
  • Assessing financial, business and social implications SCC 
  • Roadmapping SCC pathway to net zero cold chain industry 

Project Lead

Professor Judith Evans - London South Bank University 

Co-investigators/ PhDs/ RAs 


UK Energy Research Centre