Japan

Japanese C-Store Chain Lawson Opens First 100% NatRefs Store

Japanese convenience store chain Lawson has opened its first Freon free store, which employs only natural refrigerant-based equipment.

Lawson, which operates more than 14,000 outlets, is one of Japan’s top three convenience store chains, together with 7-Eleven and Family Mart.

The store, which opened on September 23, is billed as an “environmentally friendly model store” that employs CO2 and hydrocarbon refrigeration equipment. It is located on the Shonan Fujisawa Campus of Keio University, in Kanagawa Prefecture — about one and a half hours southwest of Tokyo by train.

The Keio University store is also Lawson’s first to use hydrocarbons for its smaller plug-in upright and under-counter refrigerators as well as its ice makers.

Lawson has long been one of the world’s leading end users of CO2 systems, opening its first CO2 store in 2010 and expecting to reach 4,000 stores by February 2020. However, until now, Lawson has employed CO2 mainly for its large applications, which include in-store refrigerated and frozen display cases and outdoor condensing units.

Japanese OEM Hoshizaki supplied the hydrocarbon plug-in equipment while Panasonic provided the CO2 equipment.

Hydrocarbons Progressing in Japan

While Japan has long taken a very strict stance towards the use of hydrocarbon-based commercial refrigeration equipment, the opening of this Lawson store is one of several important hydrocarbon developments happening in the country.

The Japan Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry Association (JRAIA) is expected to issue its official guideline on the safe use of hydrocarbons in March 2020, while continuing to proceed with its risk assessment for A2L and A3 refrigerants.

Lawson is scheduled to present its latest updates and future vision of natural refrigerant use during the upcoming ATMOsphere Japan 2020 conference on February 10, 2020. See the latest program here.

Registration for the event is now open. To register, click here.

For more on this story, see Accelerate Magazine, Issue #106, coming in January 2020.

Lawson has long been one of the world’s leading end users of CO2 systems, opening its first CO2 store in 2010 and expecting to reach 4,000 stores by February 2020.