Synthetic Refrigerant Stewardship, a Hastings, New Zealand-based group focused on refrigerant recovery, has praised New Zealand’s plan to regulate HFCs by declaring them a priority product under the 2008 Waste Minimisation Act.
In a statement released July 29, New Zealand’s government declared it would regulate environmentally harmful waste such as synthetic refrigerants.
This declaration gives a framework for HFC disposal, according to the Synthetic Refrigerant Stewardship website.
“Declaring synthetic refrigerant gases as a priority product will result in significant additional benefits in reducing their environmental impact,” according to John Bowen Chairperson and Programme Manager, for RECOVERY (Trust for the Destruction of Synthetic Refrigerants), a facilitator and manager of refrigerant gas disposal, on the Synthetic Refrigerant Stewardship website.
Voluntary schemes for refrigerant recovery and disposal have operated in New Zealand since 1993.
However, these schemes do no cover refrigerant importers bringing pre-charged refrigerant units such as home refrigerators, heat pumps, or vehicle ACs.
Thus, these schemes need to be updated, suggests the group. The Synthetic Refrigerant Stewardship working group was established in June 2019, and concluded on July 21 this year, having submitted its recommendation to classify synthetic refrigerants as a priority product the New Zealand government, according to the group’s website.
Legislating a priority product
A priority product “will or may cause significant environmental harm when it becomes waste,” under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008.
The act states that the government can prevent the sale of priority products except in accordance with an accredited scheme.
The announcement on synthetic refrigerants, made by Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage, means a co-designed and regulated product stewardship scheme, along with specific product controls, “will have to be established for the gases at their end-of-life,” according to Darren Patterson, Project Lead for the Synthetic Refrigerant Stewardship.
“Managing synthetic refrigerant gases is rated as one of the best ways, worldwide, of tackling climate change,” he added.
A scheme, including recommendations around product controls that ensure mandatory participation, must be developed and accredited by government as soon as practical, Patterson said.
Managing synthetic refrigerant gases is rated as one of the best ways, worldwide, of tackling climate changeDarren Patterson, Project Lead for the Synthetic Refrigerant Stewardship project