A public-private partnership will help reduce emissions that deplete the ozone layer and contribute to climate change. EPA and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute announced an initiative that promotes the environmentally responsible use of fluorocarbon refrigerants in the annual manufacture of more than 8 million residential and commercial air conditioning units and refrigeration systems.
"Promoting the responsible use of products that emit greenhouse gases makes business sense and protects the environment," said Bill Wehrum acting assistant administrator for Air and Radiation. "We have the ability to make a difference with the appliances we use every day."
The plan will minimize emissions of two chemicals or "working fluids" in air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment. Hydrochlorofluorocarbons are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol and Clean Air Act because they deplete the ozone layer. Hydrofluorocarbons have become widely used as substitutes for ozone depleting refrigerants and do not deplete the ozone layer, but are strong greenhouse gases – up to 3,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
The initiative builds upon guidelines developed in 2002 by governmental and industry groups including EPA, the United Nations Environment Programme, Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy. The plan contains specific strategies for reducing emissions during all stages of production, including delivery, storage, the transfer of refrigerants and system charging, testing and refrigerant recovery. The guidelines provide a framework for protecting the environment beyond current mandates through advanced technologies.