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Setback for NYC refrigerant recovery law

5551262_lUSA: A crucial part of a New York City law making manufacturers responsible for recovering refrigerants from residential appliances has been invalidated by a federal court.

Under Local Law 69, NYC’s sanitation department charges manufacturers/suppliers $20 per appliance to recover the refrigerant from scrap fridges, air conditioning units and dehumidifiers. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) argued that the law is beyond the city’s legislative power and is preempted by the New York Environmental Conservation Law.

The federal judge upheld most of the law but agreed with the AHAM in that the city had exceeded its authority with regard to appliances containing CFCs. These are covered by the New York Environmental Conservation Law, a state law which contains a provision that preempts city laws governing the “sale, use, reuse, reclamation, or disposal of chlorofluorocarbon compounds.”

Now New York City will only be able to charge for the recovery of refrigerants other than CFCs under a disposal system which has been described as being unique in its inefficiency.

Under this system, after scheduling an appointment the householder leaves the discarded unit at the kerbside overnight for a special team from the council sanitation department to remove the refrigerant the following day. The de-gassed unit is then left to be collected on the next recycling collection day.

Critics of the current disposal system say it is inefficient and costly and unnecessarily exposes the appliances to scrap metal scavengers whose activities may also unwittingly release environmentally damaging refrigerants to atmosphere.

Speaking to the Cooling Post, AHAM’s general counsel Chuck Samuels described the findings as a preliminary decision. “It still violates the constitution,” he said and added “The litigation is ongoing and we are confident we will ultimately prevail.”

The Cooling Post has not yet received a reaction from New York City council.

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