A chilling standard

The UK Environment Agency has published draft standards for the recovery of ozone depleting substances (CFCs and HCFCs) from refrigerators and freezers before disposal.

Ozone depleting substances (ODS) are being phased out internationally and bans on their use in most new fridges and freezers began in 1996. From January 1st of this year, older domestic fridges and freezers that still contain CFCs and HCFCs must have them removed from both the refrigerant circuit and the insulating foam before other materials can be recycled or the appliances legally disposed of.

The Environment Agency will license and regulate ODS processing plant for fridges and freezers in England and Wales, and these include mobile plant. The draft standards describe the way in which ODS must be removed, ensuring that only appropriate equipment and sound environmental practices are used.

Environment Agency Environment Protection Manager Alun James said that ‘the draft standards clarify the environmental safeguards that must apply to processing of ODS from fridges and freezers. Following a short public consultation, we will publish firm standards and operators who can meet the requirements can then be licensed to deal with the backlog of old fridges.’

To date, there have been no specialised facilities in the UK for removing ODS from fridges and freezers, although two incinerators have been disposing of a limited quantity. There are now plans for fixed plant to begin service this summer, and mobile plant, which will be subject to the same standards and licensing regimes, will be operating sooner.

Prior to processing, fridges and freezers stored in accordance with Environment Agency guidance pose no real risk to the environment.

The draft standards are at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/wasteman/fridges

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