We’re all used to recycling at home these days. Putting the right material into the right bins – it’s a fairly simple process. But as we all know, recycling old air conditioning equipment is a lot more complicated. Gone are the days when you could just chuck the old stuff in a skip and forget about it. These days there are numerous regulations to comply with and the metal components have a considerable scrap value.
We have a deadline heading our way – the updated Waste Electrical Electronic and Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2013, which came into force on 1 January this year.
Under this, manufacturers of electrical equipment have a duty to either recycle the equipment they sell or help facilitate that recycling.
The directive actually indicates that priority should be given to the repair, upgrade and re-use of whole products for their original purpose: “Where re-use of whole appliances is not appropriate, producers must arrange for target levels of re-use and recycling and recovery of WEEE to be met.”
The regulation largely deals with the domestic waste stream, but there are obligations on the non-domestic sector as well. At this stage, it is unclear as to which fixed air conditioning systems would fall under the law. However, I believe that formulating a clear recycling policy to help contractors is something that responsible manufacturers should be doing, whether compelled to by law or not.
As with all EU and government regulations, the wording of this latest document is far from simple, but this is something that manufacturers are geared up to deal with. By the time the information reaches contractors it should be clear and unequivocal, so there is no confusion, and part of a comprehensive, yet simple recycling policy.
There is also the question of recovering the refrigerant and safely disposing of it. On top of that, there’s the AC unit and its scrap value. All of this should to be taken into account when planning and costing a contract.
When a contractor undertakes a new installation, there is normally plenty of help on offer with commissioning from manufacturers and distributors, but when it comes to decommissioning an old system, available help and advice is patchy.
Manufacturers need to provide much more of a lead. They need to bring all the strands of decommissioning together to make the whole process as simple as possible for contractors, leaving them free to selling and installing new systems.
We know we need to do more, and we will be making our own announcements in the near future.
Julian Brunnock is sales and marketing director of FG Eurofred, the face of Fujitsu in the UK