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Refrigerated containers have integrated refrigeration units that require an external power supply either on board of a ship through the connection to the ship's power supply or to an extra power pack (diesel generator); or on land through the connection to the terminal power system or a generator set.

Today very few regulations if any are addressing the environmental impacts of refrigerated containers. The preparatory study for the ecodesign working plan 2016-2019 has identified several environmental impacts of refrigerated containers:

  • Energy consumption;

  • Direct emissions to air;

  • Use of F-gases;

  • Durability;

  • Water consumption (for water cooled condensers);

  • Use of critical raw materials;

  • Presence of flame retardants;

  • Presence of plasticisers;

  • End-of-life.

The study shows that for most of the environmental impacts there is a significant improvement potential, energy efficiency being the front runner with an estimated primary annual energy saving of 17 PJ in 2020 and 21 PJ in 2030.

Refrigerated containers do not fall under the strict category of 'means of transport', as they can be used on ships, but also stationary in ports and as modular and temporary cold storage rooms. As such they are 'energy-related products' under ecodesign and energy labelling. For these reasons, the working plan 2016-2019 listed refrigerated containers as one of the new products groups for which a preparatory study is to be launched.


The overall objective of the study is to conduct a preparatory study according to the MEErP methodology, including:


  • Identify all the relevant product categories, test standards for functional performance,
    resources usages, safety, noise etc. parameters, as well as existing legislation in the EU,
    Member States, and third country related to the refrigerated containers.

  • Identify and report economic data such as EU annual sales, and stock, as well
    as market trends, channels and the major players in the industry.

  • Identify the parameters that directly and indirectly influence the energy and resource
    consumption as well as other environmental impacts during use phase.

  • Identify and report on the performance, price and resources and emissions impacts
    of existing products, products with standard improvement options, Best Available Technology (BAT), and if relevant, Best Not yet Available Technology (BNAT).

  • Define the base cases based on the analyses and data collected regarding costs and environmental impact in order to reach the Least Life Cycle Cost point, which can be the basis for ecodesign, and a potential BAT point that can be the basis for energy label regulations.

  • Identify a limited number of policy options for ecodesign requirements and for energy

Moreover, the study will also assess other relevant aspects such as potential loopholes or needs for clarifications.

This study is conducted using the Methodology for Ecodesign of Energy-using products (MEErP) as established in 2011 and revised in 2013. This methodology was developed to allow evaluating whether and to which extent various energy-related products fulfil certain criteria according to Article 15 and Annex I and/or II of the Ecodesign Directive that make them eligible for implementing measures. The 2013 revision has added different material efficiency aspects to the methodology.

The methodology requires the contractor to carry out 7 tasks, ranging from product definition to policy scenario analysis:


  • Task 1 – Scope (definitions, standards and legislation);


  • Task 2 – Markets (volumes and prices);


  • Task 3 – Users (product demand side);


  • Task 4 – Technologies (product supply side, includes both BAT and BNAT);


  • Task 5 – Environment & Economics (Base case LCA & LCC);


  • Task 6 – Design options;


  • Task 7 – Scenarios (Policy, scenario, impact and sensitivity analysis).


Tasks 1 to 4 can be performed in parallel, whereas 5, 6 and 7 are sequential.

























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