R22 ban: concerns that end users are avoiding compliance

As the deadline looms, doubts regarding full R22 compliance and the ability to police the ban effectively have been raised.

In the absence of any prosecutions by the Environment Agency (EA) over F-Gas compliance, B&ES council member Graeme Fox expressed fears that the same ‘apathy’ will be employed in respect to the R22 ban.

“The UK government has agreed against a hardline approach on this matter, despite ACRIB pushing for the opposite. A carrot-and-stick approach does not work, we’ve seen that previously with the F-Gas regulation. If you want to motivate people, then prosecutions will certainly grab their attention. And I can only see this apathetic approach continuing with the forthcoming HFC phase-downs.”

While reliable, leak-free equipment containing R22, can be legally operated until it fails, Mike Nankivell, marketing director for the Daikin distributor Space Air, warned refrigeration and air conditioning parts suppliers may also be facing a dilemma from 1 January as it is illegal to use any ODS refrigerants, including R22, for service and maintenance purposes.

“R22 refrigerant was phased out under the Ozone Depleting Substances Regulations EC 2037/2000 & 1005/2009 yet, we at Space and, I suspect, other suppliers are still receiving enquiries and orders for parts, including compressors, specifically for products designed to use the banned HCFC R22.”

While ordering a new R22 compressor is in itself completely legal, it may hint at a possible infringement, as replacing one in an R22 system will require evacuating the system, and therefore will inevitably lead to recharging.

However, Mr Nankivell believes sales should continue as there is nothing in the regulation to say that suppliers will be operating outside the law by continuing to supply components for R22-based equipment from 1 January.

“I would suggest we have a duty of care to remind customers about the legislation – just in case they are not fully aware. Could it be that they have a stockpile of R22, thinking this could be used to keep their equipment going? There might be users, despite over a decade of warnings, who still don’t realise that, although they may possess some R22, be it virgin, recycled or reclaimed, it is illegal to actually make use of this by adding it to systems after the ban.

Source: RAC Plus