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Shelves, drawers and trays Shelves, drawers and trays


  • Failure mode Poor inherent shelf and tray strength, and stress concentrations through sharp corners, can cause cracking and the accumulation of dirt.
  • Durability feature Better mould design for strength and easy cleaning, combined with a stronger liner moulding to support them.
  • Cost

Good practices

  • Good practicesPlastic-edged glass shelves
  • Good practices Toughened safety glass
  • Good practices Self supporting plastic trays
  • Good practices Strong door liner mouldings
  • Good practices Strength testing
  • Good practices QC/Inspection procedures

Bad practices

  • Bad practicesPlastic only on front of shelves
  • Bad practices Weak shelves and trays
  • Bad practices Weak door liner moulding with thin sections
  • Bad practices No QC procedures or testing

Key facts

  • Which? Consumer surveys indicate some of the most common faults relate to bad smells, mould and leaks. 
  • Around 1 in 3 of all fridges replaced in the UK each year failed to meet customer’s expectation for an 8 year product lifetime. 
  • Which? surveys show that the most common faults are build-up of ice, blocked drain and flooding in unit.

Icon key

  • Failure mode Failure mode
  • Durability features Durability features
  • Cost saving Cost saving
  • Low cost Low cost
  • Cost neutral Cost neutral
  • High cost High cost

Key failure modes

Early to later in lifetime

Weak shelves, trays and drawers, and the door liner and interior plastic mouldings, can crack or otherwise break due to heavy loads being applied and mishandling and rough treatment.

This could happen at any time and could lead to customer dissatisfaction and return. By specifying various aspects around this, damage and returns can be avoided.

Specification for improved performance

The specification below provides the recommended improvements needed to improve product durability. They are ranked from bronze to gold based on the effectiveness of the change in improving durability, with bronze being the minimum and gold being the maximum.

Shelves, trays and liner/door mouldings

  • Toughened/reinforced glass shelves to meet BS 3193 * and with bonded plastic edges on all four sides to support loads of at least 12kg per full-width shelf without deflection (>2mm) in any direction.
  • Strong self-supporting plastic fridge and freezer drawers, e.g. moulded in reinforced PS, with suitable thickness/ribs/channels (longitudinal and vertical) to support up to 12kg for a full width tray (6kg per half-width tray) and provide rigidity when lifted out of the unit without deflection (>2mm) in any direction. **
  • Strong plastic door trays moulded, e.g. in reinforced PS, with suitable thickness/ribbing to support at least 8kg of load (4kg for half width trays) without significant deflection (>2mm) in any direction. **
  • High levels (>95% by area) of bonding between door/compartment liner moulding and foam insulation to ensure no weak points in load bearing areas.
  • Easily removable shelves, drawers and trays to allow complete removal.
  • Spare parts to be available in the UK for at least 5 years after the machine was last manufactured.
  • Quality control procedures to be in place/documented for above characteristics

Stronger fridge liner moulding; no freezer compartment flaps

  • Strong internal fridge liner mouldings (door and compartment) to fully support the shelves and trays, whilst in place, at the loads noted above without deflection (>2mm) or cracking.
  • Adequately thick sheet materials to be used in vacuum/pressure forming to ensure adequate thickness and strength on resulting shelf and tray supports.
  • Large radiuses (several mm) should be used where appropriate, on shelves, trays and compartment / door mouldings, to avoid stress concentrations and facilitate cleaning.
  • No hinged freezer compartment flaps (which are vulnerable to damage) to be used – only full, moulded drawers.

Cost implications

Improved reliability of components can reduce early returns and improve brand reputation which, in turn, can lower business costs and increase long-term sales.

To calculate overall cost savings for your business, use the WRAP cost/benefit analysis tool (currently in draft form and available on request).



Increased area of bonding on door

Change to current foam injection, e.g. more injection points or increased pressures to ensure foam penetration into recesses etc.

Inspection procedures

Simple inspection procedures will help to identify manufacturing faults and component issues, reduce failure rates and customer returns.

Low cost

Stronger trays, drawers and shelves

Toughened glass shelves, reinforced materials (such as glass reinforced PS trays), thicker materials or greater use of sections and ribs to increase strength will add a some cost.

Refrigerator liners that can support higher loads

Use of thicker sheet materials in vacuum / pressure forming will add a small amount of cost.

No freezer compartment flaps

Having full drawers instead of flaps increases the amount of material used, hence adding some cost.

High cost