The debate over who polices F-Gas rages on after it was revealed that an electrical wholesaler is selling refrigerants on the open market, backed by a major supplier.
However, despite the perceived lack of enforcement by DEFRA and F-Gas Support both suppliers and wholesalers believe that it is not their responsibility to check customer credentials, citing the potential legal implications as a key barrier to involvement.
John Davey, commercial director at supplier Harp International, said: “It’s fair to say that companies don’t want to be put in charge of any legal requirements, if anything goes wrong they could be liable.
“We looked at this a decade ago when the first raft of legislation was being brought in. It sounds easy, but this is not a trivial subject matter we are dealing with.
“When we sell to wholesalers they don’t require any paperwork, therefore the chances of them asking for paperwork, and taking on responsibility is farcical.”
Yet Graeme Fox, president of contractors’ association AREA believes that end users should be asked to show their credentials.
“The wording on the regulation says it’s an offence to take refrigerants without the prerequisite F-Gas criteria, however the current arrangement absolves all liability from wholesalers.
“It may not be legally wrong to sell refrigerants without checking, but it flies in the face of all we are trying to achieve in the industry.
“We have previously had issues with electrical suppliers on the subject of refrigerant sales, and this latest revelation only enforces the need for a firm stance.
“F-Gas Support has said it may look at further regulations. But it’s not even policing the existing ones. They need to secure a high profile prosecution to send out the message across the industry that they mean business.”
Philip Sloper, managing director at wholesaler Thermofrost Cyro, said: “Having recently heard that an electrical wholesaler is now supplying refrigerants, we would call for the refrigerant manufacturers and bottlers to act more responsibly and only supply through recognised RAC wholesalers.
“However, we do not see it as our job to police the F-Gas registration of engineers and companies, and thus do not have any plans to request that customers present such certification when purchasing refrigerants, unless we have reason to believe that they may not be bona-fide RAC engineers.”
“As for making it a legal obligation for wholesalers to ask for proof, this is likely to drive unqualified engineers underground and create an uncontrolled black market.”
John Ormerod Business Director at A-Gas, said: “To be effective, any initiative like this would need to encompass all the other routes to market for refrigerants e.g. internet & direct sales, and then there are the logistical issues of checking the validity of qualifications.
“There is no central “database” available to check, and in many cases the buyer is not the user of the refrigerant so this complicates matters further.”