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EU authorities seeking more “teeth” for F-Gas law enforcement

The latest RAC Magazine webinar with Chemours focuses on next year’s upcoming R404A ban under F-Gas regulations and active efforts to try and end concerns of a thriving black market for refrigerant

The European Commission is in the process of ensuring regulators have more teeth to tackle a black-market refrigerant trade that industry argues is undermining efforts to curb use of higher GWP refrigerant.

Mark Hughes, businesses development manager for manufacturer Chemours, has said that authorities were seeking data to support a concerted effort to tackle concerns raised by various EU industry associations about the scope of illegal refrigerant trade.

The comments were made during the latest RAC Magazine webinar that was hosted in conjunction with Chemours on the theme of, ‘Facing up to the 2020 ban on R404A. Are you ready?’.

The webinar, which you can quickly register to listen to in full here, considered the impacts of a ban on higher GWP refrigerant such as R404A and R507 in certain applications. The ban is now less than a year away from coming into effect.

Mr Hughes set out Chemours’ perspective on how industry can be ready for the changes to refrigerant availability from when the ban is introduced next year, and also reiterated how a “one size fits all approach” to cooling is no longer viable in the push for efficient adoption of low GWP products. Mr Hughes also discussed how the lowest GWP solution available may not always be the most energy efficient option for a cooling system.

The incoming service and new equipment bans for higher GWP products such as R404A forms part of EU regulations that seek to reduce the amount of F-Gas product that can be put onto the market by manufacturers on an annual basis.

Part of the webinar turned its attention to a parallel trade in certain parts of the EU for refrigerant that is not subject to the F-Gas phase-down.

Particular concern has been raised within the cooling industry in recent months over the difficulties in enforcing F-Gas legislation in the EU.

Mr Hughes said that the commission was engaged in efforts to bring together data and industry expertise with a view to cut off this illegal trade as soon as possible.

He added, “It’s not going to happen overnight, but I think now that everyone is working in the same direction then we are actually going to be able to achieve something and have a more regularised phasedown as originally intended.”

The Brexit question

Another question raised during the session by RAC Magazine editor Andrew Gaved was on Brexit and what impacts there may be on the UK commitment’s to the EU’s flagship environment regulation should the country leave as scheduled late next month without any agreement in place.

Mr Hughes reiterated previous statements from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that have committed to ensure quotas introduced through F-Gas regulation would remain in place regardless of the final direction of Brexit.

At present, the company was already allotted quota to supply products beyond the UK’s scheduled exit from the EU on March 29, while the 2020 ban on product would also be coming into effect as planned in mainland Europe.

Parliament in January opted with a significant majority to reject an exit agreement reached between the EU and the UK government late last year.

While it remains unknown over whether the UK will reach an exit deal with the EU by next month, Mr Hughes added that the company and a number of manufacturers had already been allotted future quota under F-Gas regulations. This quota will be in place after the UK’s scheduled exit from the EU.

He added, “I think the key message we are getting at the moment is that there is no change as far as F-Gas regulations are concerned and that, even if the UK goes its own way [on refrigerant], however that may happen, it will mirror what is being done in Europe.”

“Now obviously there is some complications, things about how much quota is available to place product on the UK market, but those details have already been provided by the UK government. Chemours knows its quota, as do all the quota holders that place product on the UK market.”

Mr Hughes added that some form of Brexit disruption was likely in regard to the supply chain for refrigerant into the country in the event of customs checks being introduced between the UK and EU. This was due to the significant amounts of product being imported to the UK.

He added, “That could potentially cause delay to product coming in, but we are looking at contingencies, as are most companies importing to the UK.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • EU or anybody cannot have teeth for law enforcement ! when there are no bones to hold them. The reason for illegal actions is customers demand solution to there working problems while politicians dream! and manufacturers use their ignorance by changing refrigerants on the pretense of low GWP but not covering the safety and regulations or I should say the absence of safety & regulations!
    If my understanding is right (I was part of the F-Gas regulation team when it was conceived) F-Gas Regulations has nothing to do with quota ?! it is to do with competency and qualification to handle A1 (circa 46000 engineers mainly AC), A2 (circa 3000? mainly Refrigeration) and A3 (circa1000? mainly refrigeration) to safely and environmentally handle refrigerant.
    F-Gas has nothing to do with Europe or UK or any country. It is engineering guideline and standards for any person who touches a "Carnot cycle " refrigeration cycle where ever it exists.
    It is a driving license for current vehicles that passed health & safety standards and country road standards !!. Neil Afram

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