Refrigerant management

HCFCs are widely used in refrigeration and air conditioning applications worldwide in domestic and commercial refrigeration, cold storage, food processing, transport and industrial refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pumps, chillers, and mobile air conditioning. Under the Montreal Protocol, the HCFCs are being phased out and low-GWP, energy efficient alternatives are being introduced to replace them. The main global refrigerant options include ammonia, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, HFOs and HFC blends. All have advantages and disadvantages that should be closely considered, including performance, cost, availability, toxicity, flammability, operating pressure, global warming potential and energy efficiency.

All of these refrigerants should be properly managed from cradle to grave to ensure safety, optimize equipment performance, avoid emissions, and save costs. Refrigerant management encompasses refrigerant awareness and proper handling throughout the entire chain, from transport and storage to good servicing practices, recovery and recycling, and proper end-of-life disposal. Good refrigerant management can only be achieved by skilled technicians that have the awareness, expertise and information related to each class of refrigerants that they work with. This is particularly crucial in developing countries where the overwhelming majority of the consumption of ozone depleting substances is in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector, and where refrigerants play a key role in the economic and social backbone of those societies.

OZONACTION'S ROLE

UN Environment OzonAction promotes proper refrigerant management in developing countries as one of its capacity building objectives. We provide National Ozone Units and other stakeholders, including refrigeration servicing technicians, national refrigeration associations and training institutes, with training and information tools in support of refrigerant management, as well as through HCFC Phase out Management Plans, which integrate investment projects, policies and capacity building to phase out HCFCs and introduce low-GWP, energy efficient alternatives. OzonAction also has a major partnership with associations and industry to jointly promote refrigerant management through the global industry supply chain.

RELATED INITIATIVES

Refrigerant Driving License (RDL)

RDL is an initiative by UN Environment OzonAction and Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) that aims to create a globally-recognized qualification programme for the sound and safe management of refrigerants for the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) supply chain network. In close cooperation with industry and association partners, the initiative will set minimum qualification requirements and seek international recognition of such a program from industry and the governments.

RDL will address the requirements for sound management of different types of current and future refrigerants, including best practices for identifying, handling, charging, recovery and recycling, leak testing, storing, record-keeping, etc. The implementation of RDL will be achieved through the HVAC&R industry business networks, which over time is expected to lead to its widespread recognition by governments, end-users, public and private sectors.

AHRI and UNEP are promoting RDL to HVAC&R associations via the Global Refrigerant Management Initiative (GRMI) and the International Council of Air-Conditioning, Refrigeration, and Heating Manufacturers Associations (ICARHMA) in order to create the adequate momentum of having globally accepted qualification program.

AHRI and UNEP formed an Advisory Committee that provides the oversight and technical review for the RDL through its different stages. Members include representatives of major HCAV&R associations from different regions: Associação Brasileira de Refrigeração, Ar Condicionado, Ventilação e Aquecimento (ABRAVA), Asociación Colombiana de Acondicionamiento del Aire y de la Refrigeración (ACAIRE), Air Conditioning and Refrigeration European Association (AREA), ASHRAE, European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE), Japan Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry Association (JRAIA), Refrigerants Australia and the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy (ARAP).

The initial RDL work plan includes three stages during 2016-2018:  Development, Review and Pilot, and Launch and outreach.