Why recover refrigerant?
It is the law.
Under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989, and the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995, it is illegal to discharge fluorocarbon refrigerant into the atmosphere, and subject to a potential fine of up to $33,000 for individuals and $165,000 for corporations.
Refrigerant is bad for the environment.
Refrigerant is often a CFC, which is largely responsible for the hole in the ozone layer, and nearly always has a high global warming potential. For example R12, a refrigerant common in pre 1996 fridges and freezers, is a CFC. If that wasn’t bad enough, one kilogram of R12 has the same effect on global warming as 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide!
Discharging the refrigerant from one pre 1996 fridge to atmosphere contributes to the hole in the ozone layer and has the same carbon footprint as running the average family home in Victoria for six months.
Refrigerant can be very dangerous.
Depending on the type of unit you are dealing with, refrigerant can be carcinogenic, flammable, toxic, and corrosive. Most business operators in the metal recycling industry would be familiar with the pungent smell of ammonia filling the air when scrapping three way fridges or freezers. Following damage to the unit, anhydrous ammonia evaporates from the unit, filling the air with a toxic flammable and corrosive gas. Most refrigerant does not have a smell or a taste, and is just as dangerous as the refrigerant in three way fridges and freezers, and much worse for the environment – the only difference is you won’t know that you are surrounded by a toxic gas. Symptoms of refrigerant poisoning include breathing difficulty, throat swelling/pain, severe pain or burning in the nose, eyes, ears, lips, or tongue, loss of vision, severe abdominal pain, vomiting, burns of the esophagus (food pipe), vomiting blood, irregular heart rhythms, collapse, skin irritation/burns, and necrosis (holes) in the skin or underlying tissues
Most end of life refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, including fridges, freezers, air conditioners, and vehicle air conditioners received at transfer stations and scrap metal yards will contain refrigerant. Recyclers needs to ensure that refrigerant is removed from theses devices, prior to the recycling process commencing. Units cannot be put into metal bins provided by larger recyclers, or handled by heavy machinery and thrown into large scrap piles until refrigerant has been recovered. It is essential that an ARC authorised refrigerant recovery agent is engaged to undertake the process of refrigerant reclaiming, before recycling commences. Ecofeet is an ARC authorised refrigerant reclaim agent in Victoria to Reclaim refrigerant from all end of life refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. Contact us today.