Wilson Lawrence, Vice President & General Manager and Zubin Varghese, Senior Innovation Director talks about how this seemingly humble innovation seeks to address the twin global challenges at scale
Trane Technologies is a global leader in air conditioning systems, services and solutions for buildings and transportation. It is also the first company in the sector to get net-zero carbon emissions targets approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Trane Technologies has recently launched an innovative cooling cart at Kolar in Bengaluru, which seeks to address food insecurity and global warming worldwide. India-based Wilson Lawrence, Vice President & General Manager and Zubin Varghese, Senior Innovation Director talk to Rajiv Tikoo about how this seemingly humble innovation seeks to address the twin global challenges at scale. Edited excerpts:
What Made You Take Up The Initiative Of Launching A Cooling Cart?
You will agree that it is absurd that about 1.3 billion people in the world are experiencing food insecurity when about 30% of the food produced is lost or wasted. It includes one third of the loss through street vendors on account of lack of access to affordable cooling. Our cooling cart is a solution to reduce both food waste and emissions at scale.
So, How Is The Cooling Cart Different From Existing Carts?
We looked at the basic form of food transportation used at the local level: the cart. All of us are familiar with a conventional cart, but there are also a few vendors now using solar powered carts running on batteries. What we realised quickly is that there has to be an upgrade with a very passive solution. So luckily, for some time, we have been looking at using something called radiative cooling. The second main feature of the cart is that we have made the canopy to go up and down. So, at night it comes down to become a closed box. It is not only cooler, but also secure. It not only preserves, but also protects leftover vegetables.
What Is Radiative Cooling?
If you park your car outside during the day and then look at your windshield at night, it will have a lot of condensed water. This is because it is radiating heat to the sky, which is always at a low temperature. In ancient times, this phenomenon was used in Iran and other places to make ice. So, the innovation is about using this during the daytime also.
How Do You Use Radiative Cooling In Carts?
A company in California has already developed a film which basically reflects around 97% of the sunlight and also radiates this heat to the sky. What we get with this film, which is pasted on any aluminum sheet even on a surface like a canopy, is that the temperature underneath comes down to 0-10 C degrees below the ambient temperature because it's radiating heat to the sky.
How Affordable Is A Cooling Cart?
At the moment it is about Rs 12,000-15,000 without the canopy, but exact pricing is yet to be set.
What Is Your Baseline Understanding Of The Target Community Of The Pilot Project In Bengaluru?
Generally what we see is that there is a hierarchy even in the food cart vendors. The poor people and the woman are the ones who sell most of the greens. And these are the ones that go bad very quickly. What we have seen is that most of them, buy for around Rs 3,000, but they lose Rs 500 worth of greens every day. They earn generally around Rs 300-500. We are helping save anything between Rs 300 and Rs 500.
How Do You Plan To Scale Up The Pilot?
We want this cart to be everywhere there is a waste of food, fruits and vegetables. So, we have been talking to different organisations, including the UN agencies, to see how we can scale it up. The business plan is to basically scale it up as much as possible. When we did the analysis and really looked at the figures, there are approximately 10 million carts in India. It would be good to reach 10 million figure in India and 40 million across the world.
Apart from its business case, how does the initiative help your 2030 sustainability commitments, including Gigaton Challenge of reducing carbon emissions by one gigaton, which is 2% of the world’s annual emissions?
If we reduce food waste, then we don’t need so much land to cultivate. If so much land is not cultivated, there is so much CO2 equivalent emission saved. Besides, the living standards of these people will also improve. We will be also contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 2 of Zero Hunger.