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98% of ozone depleting substances have now been phased out of production and consumption, since the introduction of the Montreal Protocol in 1987. Certain ozone depleting substances can continue in use for a further limited period of time, such as
HCFCs have been used as refrigerant gases since the complete phase out of the older CFC refrigerants. The most commonly used HCFC refrigerant is known as R22 and has been in widespread use in applications in many economic sectors. However, all HCFCs are to be completely banned after 31 December 2014.
Therefore, from 1 January 2015, the use of all R22 in the maintenance or servicing of existing refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment will be prohibited. Any operator of equipment running on R22 should consider the impact of this ban and ask for advice from a qualified and certified refrigeration and air-conditioning contractor to ensure that any business-critical equipment is retrofitted with an alternative gas or replaced before that date. Operators of other equipment that is not considered business-critical may prefer to continue using the equipment; however, it is recommended that operators have plan in place in the event that the equipment breaks down, as it will be illegal to service or maintain the equipment if it involves the use of R22.
Note that although equipment containing R22 can continue to be used beyond 31 December 2014, there can be no maintenance or servicing carried out on the equipment that involves breaking into the refrigerant circuits.
F-gases are the most common alternative to ODS, but their use is also controlled because they have a negative impact on climate change. Contractors can provide information and assistance about alternative refrigerants with fewer controls and reduced impact on the environment. These include natural refrigerants (such as CO2, ammonia or hydrocarbons) and low/very low global warming potential refrigerants.
It should be noted that recovered refrigerant gas is considered a hazardous waste and must be managed accordingly. From 1 January 2015, there will be no legitimate use for any recovered R22; therefore, it must be discarded and managed as a hazardous waste.
The restrictions on the placing on the market and use of HCFCs is set out in Article 11 of Regulation 1005/2009 on substances that deplete the ozone layer.
Operators should ensure that any equipment that is decommissioned is managed in accordance with the requirements of the WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) regulations. In addition, any refrigerant gas recovered from equipment is considered a hazardous waste and must be managed accordingly. Operators should ensure that the contrator carrying out the work is appropriately qualified to do so, and that the waste refrigerant gas is handled by a person that is compliant with the waste management (collection permit) regulations.
Halon has been used as a fire extinguishing agent for many years, until it was prohibited under European law in 2003. However, halon can continue to be used in some limited situations and this is known as critical use. Citical use applications include on board aircraft, at airfields and airports, personal protection by military and police personnel and in military applications such as ground vehicles, chips and submarines.
The use of halon in critical use applications is time-limited. All halon used by military and police personnel for personal protection must cease by 31 December 2013. All halon used at airfields and airports on crash rescue vehicles and for the protection of aircraft in hangars and maintenance areas must cease by 31 December 2016.
Cut-off dates and end-dates for all halon critical uses are set out in Annex VI to Regulation 1005/2009 on substances that deplete the ozone layer. A revised Annex VI was published in Commission Regulation 744/2010.
Learn more about the ban on R22
Learn more about alternatives to ozone depleting substances
Read more about alternative refrigerants in the 2010 Assessment Report of the Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pumps Technical Options Committee
Read more about halon alternatives in the 2010 Assessment Report of the Halon Technical Optiions Committee
Check cut-off dates and end-dates for halon critical uses (Commission Regulation 744/2010)
Learn more about how to manage waste refrigerant gases
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