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Refrigerant recovery lacks regulation, says Project Drawdown

No economic incentive to recover and destroy refrigerant gases, says Senior Fellow

| | Oct 15, 2018 | 2:47 pm
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Sausalito, California, USA, 15 October 2018: Recovering refrigerant gases from the domestic, industrial and transport refrigeration and air conditioning sectors is critical to prevent large volumes of these gases from being vented into the atmosphere, said Kevin Bayuk, Senior Financial Fellow, Project Drawdown, sharing key takeaways from the Refrigerant Management Technical Report authored by Kapil Narula. Bayuk said that though a number of developed countries rolled out regulations prohibiting venting, this is still rather the exception than the rule, adding that even if there is regulation, its enforcement, even in developed countries, is a challenge. “Due to the Montreal Protocol, countries have been reporting their consumption of refrigerant gases, but there is no accounting on quantities of gases banked in existing equipment stock,” he said. “The data on penetration of recovery and destruction practices is also limited. In the absence of this data, estimating the quantities of these gases being vented annually, due to improper disposal practices, is a challenge.”

Bayuk said that in the domestic sector, due to the smaller volumes of gases contained in refrigerators, there is no economic incentive for recovering and destroying gases. This is an issue, he stressed, as there is a huge stock of domestic refrigerators, many of which are older than 15 years, indicating that they also continue to hold refrigerants, which have high GWP. “It is also easier to regulate refrigerant recovery from the commercial refrigeration sector,” he said, “especially the large centralised supermarket sub-sector that is controlled by a handful of very large companies.”

Bayuk stressed that for recovery and destruction to be practised, economic feasibility of these methods should be improved. “Recovery from larger commercial applications in both refrigeration and air conditioning is economically more viable,” he said. “However, the costs of justifying establishment of destruction facilities will depend on other market forces. For example, creation of a voluntary carbon market focused on generation of carbon credits from refrigerant destruction.” Currently, he said, three standards provide guidelines for issuing of credits for ODS destruction projects – CCX, Climate Action Reserve and Voluntary Carbon Standard. According to the World Bank, he added, the voluntary carbon market is projected to grow at a rate of 15% per year, which could stimulate demand for credits from refrigerant destruction projects.

Bayuk said that in Project Drawdown’s analysis, Australia was highlighted for its industry involvement. “In 2003, the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse gas management Act 7 was passed by the Australian parliament that made it mandatory for the refrigeration and air conditioning industries to “recover, return and safely dispose of ODSs and synthetic GHG refrigerants. Recovery and reclamation professionals must be certified by the Australian Refrigeration Council or ARC,” he said. Bayuk explained that the law prohibits venting, requires that sellers of ODSs and GHG refrigerants accept recovered refrigerants, importers of refrigerants should have valid importers licence and companies buying or selling refrigerants must meet specified criteria. “There are stiff penalties for non-compliance,” he said. “An offence under the regulation carries a maximum penalty AUD 1,100 (USD 785) for individuals and AUD 5,500 (USD 3,927) for corporate entities.” Additionally Bayuk said that Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA), a not-for-profit industry-funded organisation, was established to recover, reclaim and destroy ozone-depleting refrigerants. “RRA is strongly supported by key industry participants, involving importers and wholesalers of refrigerants and relevant industry associations, such as equipment manufacturers and contractors,” he said. “This inclusiveness is considered to be a major factor in the success of the programme.” Bayuk said that the role of RRA is to collect, reclaim or destroy unwanted and contaminated material and in the country, the concept of recycling and reuse of refrigerants is also widely promoted.

Note: Currency conversions in the article are as per October 15, 2018.

Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at hannah@cpi-industry.com


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