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Refrigerant sellers must take back cylinders for refilling

UK: The UK government has reminded refrigerant sellers that only refillable cylinders are allowable and that vendors must have a process in place for customers to return cylinders for refilling.

New guidance from the Environment Agency and DEFRA on current and future F-gas bans clearly states that only refillable containers can be used to “service, maintain or fill refrigeration, air conditioning or heatpump equipment, fire protection systems or switchgear”.

Since the implementation of the F-gas phase down, Europe has been swamped with quota-busting refrigerant in disposable cylinders, a container that has been banned in Europe since 2007. 

Pressure from industry groups spurred by stories on the Cooling Post have recently seen a marked reduction in the open sale of refrigerant in illegal disposable (non-refillable) cylinders on internet web platforms. 

Now, as observed by the Cooling Post, black marketeers appear to have switched to advertising refrigerant in supposedly legal “refillable” cylinders. However, many of these vendors are still in breach of the F-gas regulation as they do not offer a returns service. Article 2 (13) of the F-gas regulations (517/2014) defines a non-refillable container as a “container which cannot be refilled without being adapted for that purpose or is placed on the market without provision having been made for its return for refilling”.

This has now been spelled out in new guidance – Bans on F gas in new products and equipment: current and future – published on the UK government website today. 

The guidance explains which F-gases are banned or will be banned in the future and on the subject of refillable cylinders and says: “You must take back containers from customers to refill them. Your containers are only classed as refillable if you have a process for customers to return containers to you for refilling.”

Most established refrigerant suppliers operate a cylinder rental scheme. The monthly rental charge and financial penalties are designed to encourage engineers to return all empty cylinders to the supplier for refilling. As well as ensuring compliance with the F-gas regulations, this returns policy also enables the supplier to ensure the quality and safety of its cylinder fleet is maintained by making repairs and replacing cylinders as necessary. In some instances, suppliers place a returnable deposit on the cylinder, instead, to encourage its return.

The UK government guidance can be found here.

Refilling equipment

The latest guidance is accompanied by a further page documenting the F-gas regulations coming in on January 1 regarding refilling existing equipment and the F-gases that may not be used.

The document – Banned F gas for refilling equipment – can be found here.

Related stories:

Rise of the disposable “refillable”23 January 2019
EUROPE: A clampdown on the supply of refrigerant in illegal disposable cylinders has created a new illicit market in refrigerant being sold in refillable cylinders. Read more…

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