As Australia moves towards a total phase-out of R22 imports (as well as all HCFC refrigerants) by 2016, industry is already well advanced in the transition from R22, including moving away entirely from the import and manufacture of air conditioners
that operate on R22 refrigerant.
HCFC-22 (R22) has been commonly used in residential heat pump, air conditioning and refrigeration systems since the 1990s. In 2012, R22 accounted for approximately 26 per cent of the total bank of working gases in Australia.
Australia has a legislated phase-out of HCFCs, in line with its obligations under the Montreal Protocol, and will largely phase-out the import of HCFCs from 2016. There will be an allowance for a small amount (2.5 ozone depletion potential tonnes a year)
which will be permitted to service equipment until 2029.
After 2029, the maintenance of remaining R22-based systems will rely on recycled or reclaimed refrigerant. It is expected that reclamation and recycling will ensure that existing supplies of R22 will last longer and be available to service a greater number
The ARC has received a lot of questions from technicians and facility managers on what they should be advising their clients about systems currently containing R22.
Important information for users of R22 refrigerant:
- R22 will continue to be available in Australia, although quantities of new R22 imported into Australia are reducing until 2016, when importing will be completely phased-out.
- If R22 systems are in good working order, there is no need to transition to an alternative refrigerant/system.
- Regular servicing to minimise leakages is important.
- Existing units using R22 can continue to be serviced with R22.
- Some used R22 is being reclaimed to manufacturer's specifications. Contact your refrigerant supplier for further information.
- Conversion (retrofitting) of existing systems to use a non-ozone-depleting substitute refrigerant. Retrofits are allowed if the substitute refrigerant has been found acceptable for that type of use and it is done in accordance with relevant legislation and Australian Standards.
Alternatives to R22
Equipment manufacturers, gas suppliers, refrigeration engineers, technicians and state and territory work health safety regulators can provide advice on equipment and refrigerant issues, warranties and safety requirements when it comes to finding
alternatives to R22 for existing systems. HCFCs (including R22) are being phased-out globally under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Australia has adopted an accelerated phase-out of HCFCs. The level of permitted imports and manufacture decreases every two years, as specified in the table below.
For further information, the Department of the Environment has a Fact Sheet available on the Phase-out of R22 refrigerant.
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