As the EPA works towards worldwide phase out of ozone-depleting CFCs, the refrigerant of choice (HFCFC-22, more commonly known as R-22) for commercial and residential use has begun its long awaited phase-out. Although HFCFCs are not as harmful as CFCs they still contain chlorine – an ozone-depleting agent – and need to be appropriately addressed and properly handled.
R-22 and the Montreal Protocol – An International Environmental Agreement
R-22 was first listed as a danger to the environment in 1987 in the Montreal Protocol, an international environmental agreement. That agreement included a phase-out schedule for HCFCs, including R-22. Below is the timeline as listed @EPA.gov:
Phase-out Schedule for HCFCs – Including R-22
Under the terms of the Montreal Protocol, the U.S. agreed to meet certain obligations by specific dates that will affect the residential heat pump and air-conditioning industry:
January 1, 2004:
The Montreal Protocol required the U.S. to reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 35% below the U.S. baseline cap. As of January 1, 2003, EPA banned the production and import of HCFC-141b, the most ozone-destructive HCFCs. This action allowed the United States to meet its obligations under the Montreal Protocol. The EPA was able to issue 100% of company baseline allowances for production and import of HCFC-22 (R-22) and HCFC-142b.
January 1, 2010:
The Montreal Protocol requires the U.S. to reduce its consumption of HCFCs (R-22) by 75% below the U.S. baseline. Allowance holders may only produce or import HCFC-22 to service existing equipment. Virgin R-22 may not be used in new equipment. As a result, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system manufacturers may not produce new air conditioners and heat pumps containing R-22.
January 1, 2015:
The Montreal Protocol requires the U.S. to reduce its consumption of HCFCs (R-22) by 90% below the U.S. baseline.
January 1, 2020:
The Montreal Protocol requires the U.S. to reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 99.5% below the U.S. baseline. Refrigerant that has been recovered and recycled/reclaimed will be allowed beyond 2020 to service existing systems, but chemical manufacturers will no longer be able to produce R-22 to service existing air conditioners and heat pumps.
What the Phase-out of R-22 Means for the Future
As HVAC equipment is replaced, it is important to consider the phase-out of R-22 in order to make a cost effective and intelligent decision for your businesses needs. The increased scarcity of R-22 and the higher demand for service and repairs has created a drastic spike in the price of R-22.
The outlook for pricing of R-22 is not likely to fall anytime soon. Responsible facilities managers will weigh this cost when considering the repair or replacement of older HVAC equipment. R-410A and R-407C are popular alternatives for the old R-22 units.
General Temperature Control not only offers a Refrigerant Recovery Program, but we are Columbus, Ohio’s premier source for commercial and residential HVAC services. Let us solve your dilemma in finding energy efficient and environmentally friendly alternatives as we phase-out R-22 and other ozone-depleting refrigerants.
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