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Ethical Home – Fridges and Freezers

A fridge or freezer probably costs about twice as much to run over its lifetime as it did to purchase. This is one reason to look out for the most energy-efficient machines. A less efficient one may be cheaper to buy, but powering it will be more expensive from the moment it is switched on.

Energy labelling is now compulsory for fridges and freezers, and most brands have models available that are classed as ‘A’ or ‘B’. A-rated models use about half as much energy as C-rated ones. ‘Energy plus’ ratings are awarded to models (so far only fridgefreezers) that are even more efficient, using as little as half the electricity of the average appliance. The EU also awards ‘eco-labels’ to energy efficient models that are manufactured with minimal environmental impact. Vestfrost of Denmark is one of the companies that has received this label.


When CFC coolant gas was taken out of production because it was harming the ozone layer, manufacturers switched to HCFCs and then to HFCs. There is still widespread use of HFCs in fridges, even though they could contribute to climate change. The methods used to produce HFCs also results in toxic waste.

One of the best options to look for in a new fridge or freezer is the R600a hydrocarbon coolant (labelled ‘CFC and HFC-free’). This has a lower global warming potential, is non-toxic and is more efficient than HFCs.


Old fridges and freezers contain a number of toxic substances, including CFC and HFC coolants and flame-retardant chemicals, so it is essential that they are disposed of safely and correctly. The gases need to be removed at a specialist facility that deals with hazardous waste. Some manufacturers and retailers take back old models and may offer trade-ins, so they should be the first place to try. Local councils can also offer advice on recycling and safe disposal of units.

Key Research

Below you will find links to the key sections of our ethical research in Home & Office:

We have created ethical comparison rankings for the following brands, based on the activities of the company group (see above tables): Proline, Ariston, Beko, Candy, Creda, Hoover, Hotpoint, Indesit, Merloni, Miele, New World, LEC, Bauknecht, Brandt, Ignis, Ocean, Whirlpool, Electolux, Zanussi, Tricity Bendix, AEG, Liebherr, Iceline, Kyoto, Bosch, Neff, Siemens.

Disclosure:  Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning we earn commission if you click through and make a purchase. Placement and use of these links has no bearing in terms of the ethical scores that we give to a brand.  All commission earned by The Good Shopping Guide is re-invested into the research carried out by The Ethical Company Organisation.

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