Every day the perishable goods are packed up for transport. Harvest Fresh supplies large supermarket chains with vegetables grown on the company’s own fields and nearby farms. Driver Lucky Thantheni is preparing his cargo. Today he’s taking it to a big warehouse in Johannesburg. The truck interior has to reach the required temperature before the delicate freight can be loaded. Final instructions from the logistics manager. The vegetables have to be kept cool at a constant temperature of 2.7 degrees Celsius during the transport. That will be checked on delivery. “We need to make sure that everything is packed correctly, is sealed correctly. Because any, let’s say, any heat and stuff that comes into the vegetables, that are not sealed correctly, not cooled properly, go to waste.” Refrigerated transport is important in a hot country like South Africa. This is one of the 13-thousand or so refrigerated trucks in the country. The fleet emits enormous amounts of greenhouse gases. The cargo area of most trucks is poorly insulated, resulting in greater diesel fuel consumption and spoiled produce. South Africa’s agency for standards, the SABS, wants to make refrigerated transports more climate-friendly. A testing hall for refrigerated trucks was recently opened here – the first on the African continent. Germany’s agency for international development cooperation, the GIZ, supported the construction of the hall by making contacts to companies that operate similar testing facilities in Europe. The technology had to be adapted for use in South Africa. Transport vehicles here are bigger and more powerful than they are in Europe. At the moment, only one out of five manufacturers meet the minimum standards for insulation. For the first time ever, the new facility allows testers here to precisely determine just how well the trucks are insulated. There was no exact data available up to now. “That gives a tool to all the manufacturers to improve their insulation properly. They can actually see their results in the practical performance of the improvements that they have made. So that they can implement that into production. With a lot of new trucks out there with better insulation, we know we will use less diesel to run the cooling systems. Less diesel means fewer carbon emissions into the atmosphere.” Every vehicle tested here gets an environmental seal. Before long, the seal will be required on all vehicles that transport fresh produce abroad. It tells how much fuel the vehicle needs for refrigeration, and gives the values measured by the temperature sensors in the testing chamber. Entering Johannesburg. Lucky Thantheni has been on the road with his vegetable truck for about an hour-and-a-half. A special coolant helps maintain the low temperatures in the cargo area. Most refrigerated trucks use this coolant, which contains a chemical that is harmful to the environment. Its impact on the atmosphere is 4-thousand times greater than CO2. The Transfrig company plans on switching to another refrigerant. The company has developed this prototype that will soon hit the market. It says it’s the world’s only cooling system that uses propane while minimizing the risk of using the flammable substance. “We use propane because it is totally environmentally friendly. It does nothing to the OZONE layer. Its carbon footprint is very small. And that is why we chose propane. And it’s also very easily obtainable.” Using propane can sink coolant emissions by a factor of a thousand. Transfrig tested its prototype in this truck. In the summer, it transports ice cream, cooled to minus 25-degrees Celsius. The company plans to produce five to ten further propane-based cooling units here in the coming months, and to test them on the road and put the final touches on the new technology. The cooling unit can be powered by a small motor. That saves on fuel costs. If everything works out as planned, the conventional, environmentally harmful coolant will no longer be used here. The company wants to install the propane technology in all refrigeration units for large, medium and small vehicles. “Then we will look at exporting to local African markets – Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique. We have a very good presence in all these markets. And once it’s proven here we will it introduce it into those markets.” Experts estimate that by 2030, South Africa can reduce its CO2 emissions by 2 million tons – alone through better insulation and propane-based cooling units. It’s a first step toward making South Africa’s refrigerated transport climate-friendly. And that is urgently needed to sustain the sector’s rapid growth.