Cookie Settings

If you click on “Accept”, you allow us to record your usage behavior on this website. This enables us to improve our website. If you click on "Decline", we only use session cookies, which serve to improve user-friendliness and to measure the statistical range.

What a cool guy! How our “Little Foot” helps reduce carbon emissions

What a cool guy! How our “Little Foot” helps reduce carbon emissions

Reading time for this article: 8 minutes

Looking for ways to shrink your carbon footprint? We are, too. Have you found any? We have! In our new Bosch combination refrigerator/freezer, we have reduced the carbon footprint arising from the materials by one-third. We caught up with the people behind the product to talk about why this is such a big deal and how we did it.

Lower harmful emissions, less resource waste, better climate action. Those have always been our key aims in developing refrigerators. That’s why we were the first producer of domestic appliances worldwide to make refrigerators that were free of CFCs and HFCs, back in 1993. It’s also why our refrigerators feature drawers with moisture regulation to keep foods fresh and crisp for longer. And it’s why we are now unveiling our new Bosch combination refrigerator and freezer with a 33 percent smaller carbon footprint in terms of its materials. It’s so cool that it deserves an article all to itself.

We caught up with Andreas Kleiner and Tina Rönnberg to talk about what makes our combination refrigerator and freezer – affectionately known internally as “Little Foot” – so unique and how it all fits in with BSH’s sustainability targets. Andreas was instrumental in the development process, while Tina was mainly responsible for stakeholder management.

Andreas, you were instrumental in developing the Little Foot. How did the idea of developing a fridge with a smaller carbon footprint come up in the first place? 

Andreas: The idea came up back in 2016, when we were working on bioplastics – that is, plastics made without petroleum. Back then, there weren’t all that many materials to choose from, and the need for action wasn’t sufficiently recognized either internally or by consumers. With BSH’s ambitious sustainability targets in place, we saw our chance to get back to this issue last year and get things rolling for a green refrigerator. Lowering carbon emissions is a big issue, and it’s an urgent need in terms of climate action, so it was where we decided to start.

So who did you need to convince, or what was the biggest challenge in terms of getting started? 

Andreas: BSH is operating in a tough environment these days. On the one hand, the availability of components is an issue. On the other, rising material prices are a challenge, especially when it comes to refrigeration products. Launching a very sustainable appliance on the market at a higher price point than a standard one is definitely a risky move. 

So we’re all the more delighted that we were able to convince everyone involved, from the factory planning team to marketing, to take the risk and contribute the necessary resources.

Tina: The very first time we heard about the Little Foot, we believed in it. There were two reasons for this: First, the concept goes 100 percent toward our innovation fields of sustainability and security, which shape the brand. Second, when it comes to sustainability, our target group has given us a clear instruction to pursue, execute, and support exactly these kinds of innovations involving low electricity consumption combined with a small carbon footprint. 

That was how, thanks to our role as a driver of sustainable products, the Little Foot ended up truly being fast-tracked at Bosch. We were delighted to see how well received the subject was among our stakeholders, and how much they identified with it themselves. Thanks to all the efforts put in internally, traditional processes were accelerated, which made it possible to achieve things that might otherwise take years. It was just four months from spontaneous approval for IFA placement to announcing the concrete market launch. Everything at BSH really went like clockwork.

What exactly makes the Little Foot so special?  

Andreas: Viewed over the entire life cycle, the Little Foot is the appliance with the smallest carbon footprint in its class. It’s a combination found nowhere else on the market. For calculation purposes, we’re looking at the total of the electricity consumed and material used. This is the first time we’ve used materials that are biologically based or have sharply reduced carbon emissions or even none at all. That has allowed us to reduce the material’s footprint by 33 percent in all, going from 300 kg to 200 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent. Beyond that, it’s very energy-efficient, using almost 40 percent less electricity than the average across our current standalone appliance range in Europe. And let’s not forget that the B energy efficiency rating is two classes above what was the highest class until 2021, A+++, so it’s a really tough category.

One thing that’s especially important to us is for these measures to be transparent and understandable. All of our carbon reductions are achieved without offsets. They are the product of real-world changes in processes and raw materials, for example using the latest blast furnace technology in steel production. We also use only what are known as second-generation raw materials in terms of our biologically based materials, so those are either organic waste or used cooking oils, or UCOs (used cooking oil). All of these measures have been tested and verified externally so we can proceed as a forerunner with superior standards.

Tina: What makes this refrigerator so special to the Bosch brand is that it reflects our brand values to a high degree while underscoring our sustainability strategy. To us, sustainability is a principle of responsible action. What that means is that we aim to develop durable, high-quality appliances that conserve resources and are made from eco-friendly materials. In this way, our goal is to support our target group by offering compelling choices for a responsible lifestyle. Consumers can then decide on the individual package or appliance that makes the most sense for them. The Little Foot and the Bosch brand are a perfect combination, if you will.

Tina, can you tell us about how that fits in with BSH’s sustainability targets?

Tina: The goals of the Bosch brand are aligned with BSH’s targets, of course. The more eco-friendly materials we use for the Little Foot are part of the BSH material and substance strategy, which calls for 50 percent of the materials used to make our products to be recycled by 2030. And especially when it comes to the refrigeration segment, that’s a real challenge, since many components come into contact with food.

Another of BSH’s targets is to reduce what are known as Scope 3 emissions by 15 percent. This applies to things like our suppliers’ material footprint, transportation, and the period when our appliances are in use. And the Little Foot is making great strides there as well. 

All in all, the combination of eco-friendlier materials with a 33 percent smaller carbon footprint and high energy efficiency makes this a prime example. It already meets BSH’s targets for 2030.

Andreas, which components inside the refrigerator are made from new materials, and which are recycled? And can people see or feel which is which?

Andreas: We looked at some of the components that have a heavy carbon impact. For example, the side walls and other steel sheet metal components have a 70 percent lower carbon footprint, and the stainless steel doors are made with an especially high percentage of recycled material. 

In terms of the plastics, both the main component of the insulating foam and all of the interior parts, like the drawers and door shelves, are made of bio-based raw materials and were also carbon-neutral to produce. 

You can’t see or feel these changes. That’s exactly as intended. We want to offer our consumers the same high quality and reliability, including when recycled materials are used. The only clearly distinguishing feature that shows that the Little Foot is a green fridge is the green power cord.

Tina, how does the recycled material with the lower carbon footprint affect the costs? 

Tina: In terms of costs, the identical KGN39VXBT model is a good place to look for guidance. The two models are practically twins. This one has the same energy efficiency rating, but it’s made without reduced-carbon, carbon-neutral, and bio-based materials. Comparison calculations have shown that the Little Foot will be about ten percent more expensive. 

BSH is developing extremely efficient refrigerators with an A energy efficiency rating to help consumers conserve energy, and with it carbon emissions, at home. The Little Foot has an energy efficiency rating of B, but it also has a smaller carbon footprint thanks to the materials used. What do you recommend for consumers, Tina? 

Tina: There are a lot of individual factors that go into deciding which fridge to buy. I’d like to give a simple answer, but it’s hard to make a recommendation in this case. There’s a case to be made for both of them. They both contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle. 

If lowering electricity costs is your main focus, an appliance with an A rating for energy efficiency might be the right choice. In that case, the investment you make in the refrigerator is calculated across the length of its service life, and that includes from a sustainability perspective. But how much of a factor is that if the consumer already has solar panels on the roof or access to other sustainable energy sources? In that case, the Little Foot is probably the better choice, both economically and in terms of the environment, since it still has a good energy efficiency rating of B. If electricity costs are less of a concern, this concept is already a winner when consumers first buy it, thanks to the modifications that have been made “under the hood,” so to speak, to give it a smaller carbon footprint.  

Bosch has sustainable options to offer consumers, no matter what their individual living situation may be. And hopefully, there will be more and more in the medium term!

What do you have planned next?

Andreas: The Little Foot is the first step toward greater focus on sustainability-related aspects for this and other product families as well. We plan to use some of the new materials in further appliance series so that we can make the entire product range more sustainable, step by step. There is also further potential for things like cooling technology and electronics, which take more time to execute, so they will follow in the next few years.

Tina: Aside from refrigerators, I’m also seeing this rub off onto other product families right now, in a way. The laundry care and dishwashing segments have also shown themselves to be open to the approach we chose here. Right now we’re looking at whether the Little Foot concept could translate to a green washing machine and/or dishwasher, for example, and if so, how. 

And who knows, maybe consumers will be able to equip their entire kitchen with green products not too long from now? We certainly plan to keep pursuing this approach!

 

Thank you for speaking with us. 

 

The new combination refrigerator and freezer will be available in Germany starting in May 2023. This will be the first time ever that consumers can shrink their individual carbon footprint simply through their choice of which BSH refrigerator to buy. At the same time, good energy efficiency will create opportunities to conserve energy in the household. And that means the Little Foot helps with not one, but two, of BSH’s sustainability targets. First, BSH plans to make its products from 50 percent recycled materials by 2030. Second, even as we aim to grow our sales, we want to reduce our indirect carbon emissions by 15 percent by 2030 when sourcing materials from our suppliers as well as through greater energy efficiency during the useful lives of our appliances.

 
 

Explore more stories

Innovation

BSH all over the world.

BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, with a total turnover of some EUR 15.6 billion and 62,000 employees in 2022, is a global leader in the home appliance industry. The company’s brand portfolio includes eleven well-known appliance brands like Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau and Neff as well as the ecosystem brand Home Connect and service brands like Kitchen Stories. BSH produces at 40 factories and is represented in some 50 countries. BSH is a Bosch Group company.