Cooling on the use of Fluorinated Gases
As part of the Government’s goal to reduce fluorinated gases including hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride – the Government is currently consulting on a product stewardship scheme for refrigerants such as heat pumps and refrigerators, and prohibiting the import and sale of equipment pre-charged with fluorinated gases when alternatives are available.
Fluorinated gases have a global warming potential (GWP) hundreds or thousands times greater than carbon dioxide, and make up about 2 percent of New Zealand’s annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. GWP is determined for every greenhouse gas by measuring how long 1 tonne of the gas will take to be absorbed by the earth over a given period of time. The higher the GWP is, the longer it stays within earth’s atmosphere and warms the planet.
Refrigerant Product Stewardship
Under New Zealand’s emissions reduction plan, one of the actions was the introduction of a mandatory product stewardship scheme for refrigerants. Currently New Zealand has a voluntary scheme called Refrigerant Recovery, however the recovery rates are lower than when industries are required to participate. Furthermore in July 2020 refrigerants and other synthetic GHG’s were made priority products under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 (WMA), which requires a product stewardship scheme to be developed.
Those that will likely be involved in the scheme include, but are not limited to: refrigerant importers; vehicle importers; refrigerant manufacturers; and technicians and engineers. The target for the product stewardship scheme is for 25,000 kilograms of refrigerants to be collected in the first year, and progressively increase to 50,000 kilograms by the fifth year.
Prohibiting Imports on Pre-Charged Equipment
As stated in the emissions reduction plan, the Government is planning to prohibit the import and sale of equipment pre-charged with fluorinated gases. The aim of the prohibition is to ensure that the use of high-GWP refrigerants do not continue once alternatives are available. The prohibition will likely be established through the Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996.
The prohibition will be phased in to ensure that those who currently own high-GWP refrigerants can continue using them, but once the product is at the end of its life they will need to use low-GWP refrigerants. The key dates for the prohibition of certain refrigerant products are: 1 January 2025, 1 January 2028, and 1 January 2032.
You can learn more about the consultation, and lodge a submission, at https://consult.environment.govt.nz/waste/f-gases-and-refrigerants/.
Consultation closes 18 December 2022.
Please feel free to contact us to learn more about the proposal and how it could affect you or your business.