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AREA backs existing regulation to phase out R22 production

Association has praised the effectiveness of efforts to curb ozone depleting substance use, but remains concerned over ongoing refrigerant smuggling in the EU

European contractors’ association AREA has said it remains generally supportive of the EU regulation on ozone depleting substances in response to a consultation around the legislation’s effectiveness in curbing production.

The body said that the regulation had effectively reduced consumption of such gasses and encouraged a switch to alternative refrigerant such as HFCs or natural products. However, concerns were raised about a lack of consistent and uniform application of the regulation across the EU concerning the recovery and destruction of ozone depleting substances and clamping down on black market sales.

AREA said in a statement, “Some countries are also more exposed to refrigerant smuggling, an issue that is becoming increasingly of concern in the context of the HFC phase-down too.”

The current EU regulation sets out rules for members states around producing, importing and exporting substances that deplete the ozone, as well as how they should be recovered, recycled and destroyed.

AREA said that the legislation’s focus on phasing out the use of R22 refrigerant and blends had reduced the quantities of ozone depleting substances reaching the market.

The association argued that the regulation had also ensured the recovery and destruction of existing stocks of the substances as they are replaced by alternative refrigerants. Concerns were raised however about a lack of consistency in the phase down, with low rates of recovery and destruction of the product recorded in certain EU markets.

AREA added, “In some case, consumer information campaigns could encourage changes in habits to achieve faster reduction.”

The consultation response noted that the refrigerant market had developed in order to ensure that affordable alternatives were available to support industry in switching away from R22 and R22 blends, partly due to an ongoing reliance on existing closed refrigeration systems.

It also praised the introduction of the regulation as an effective solution that could be adopted in other industries that may have issues with releasing ozone depleting substances into the atmosphere.

A proposal concerning the possible introduction of further EU regulation on the refrigeration industry was not welcomed by AREA, which instead urged for a broader global crackdown on R22 production to try and curb black market sales.

The association said, “It should also be noted that in some countries there are still significant quantities of R22 circulating in the black market and old systems that are topped up using these illegal quantities.”

“Such systems are the most likely to produce leakages but it is cheaper to recharge than to repair the leak. Without worldwide banning production of R22 and other ODP gases, the market will continue to use them illegally.”

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