Which refrigerants are banned?
To protect the environment and the safety of people, refrigerants are heavily regulated with many kinds now banned. We discuss which refrigerants are not allowed under EU law, and why.
The production of chlorofluorocarbons, commonly known as CFCs, was banned in the 1990s. The refrigerant, which contains chlorine, has a huge environmental impact. In fact, a 1974 report stated that CFCs would eventually deplete the planet’s ozone layer.
Almost thirty years after CFCs were outlawed, there is still a huge illegal trade providing refrigerants to the CFC systems still in place all over the world. In China, CFC emissions have had a 110% rise since 2012.
When the environmental impact of CFCs was not deemed acceptable, the industry, including Koura Klea® refrigerants, began to innovate. The solution that would allow CFCs to be phased out is HydroChloroFluoroCarbons, also known as HCFCs.
HCFCs contain some chlorine, but a much lower amount than CFCs, making them more environmentally friendly. These were seen as a temporary solution as CFCs were phased out due to the chlorine’s impact on the environment, but remained on the market much longer than anticipated. A production cap was introduced to ensure control over the impact the refrigerant would have on the environment.
As of 2020, production in developed countries is banned, and developing countries will see a ban from 2030.
It’s not just the refrigerants that are regulated due to their environmental impact. The canisters they come in cause a huge level of unnecessary waste, which is why the industry has regulations on these.
Canisters must be recyclable. Each manufacturer, including Koura and their Klea® refrigerants, must provide a returns process so that canisters can be reused or properly disposed of, depending on the condition.
The illegal refrigerant trade makes use of non-recyclable canisters, making them instantly recognisable by buyers.
The cylinders must also come with a quality certificate or safety data sheet qualified by independent regulatory bodies. In many instances of seized refrigerants, authorities have reported that the illegal cylinder does not contain what the forced certificate stated. While the buyer may not be in danger, the individuals working with the canisters would be working with flammable and volatile chemicals that could endanger many lives.
What is being done?
At the moment, the EU Commission, EFCTC and refrigerant industry are raising awareness and exercising authority where possible to encourage a joint approach to stamping out banned refrigerants. Border authorities are working hard to search and seize refrigerants smuggled into the country.
To support the phase out of HCFCs and CFCs, Koura has developed a range of Klea® next-gen alternatives which are future proof from EU regulations, as they contain a very low GWP.
Need to anonymously report illegal refrigerants? Click here.