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Environmental Code of Practice for Elimination of Fluorocarbon Emissions from Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Systems


The use of refrigerants contained in a closed loop is both safe and efficient as long as escape to the atmosphere is prevented. The emission of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs), such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), to the atmosphere will continue to adversely affect stratospheric ozone concentrations for many years. Even if all emissions were eliminated, the increased UVB radiation reaching the earth’s surface caused by earlier emissions will affect humans, plants, and animals. In addition, ODSs have a global-warming effect. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) contribute to global warming but have no ozone-depleting potential.

The strategy is to target the most damaging chemicals first to reduce and eventually eliminate ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) from being emitted to the atmosphere. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) Ozone-depleting Substances Regulation was amended to eliminate the production and importation of CFCs as of January 1, 1996. Most provinces also have regulatory programs in place for the recovery/recycling/reclamation of refrigerants. Environmental awareness training of service persons in refrigeration and air conditioning fields, is mandatory in most provinces.

The Code has been revised to reflect our national and global commitment to pollution prevention as well as the objectives of the National Action Plan for the Environmental Control of Ozone-depleting Substances and their fluorocarbon alternatives. The Code has been expanded to include hydrochlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons. Although the Code does not address nonfluorocarbon refrigerants, which are used in specific applications, it should be recognized that these may cause other environmental and/or safety concerns. The future development of additional technologies and practices is not discussed in this report. However, technological developments which further improve the ability to eliminate all emissions should be adopted if shown to be feasible.

The Code will require revision as new technology and regulatory advancements are made to address future problem areas. It is a guideline that will be of interest to manufacturers, contractors, service persons, environmental monitors, and regulators. It can also be used as a template for further consistency and harmony of provincial regulations concerning refrigerant emissions into the atmosphere. The Code has been developed in consultation with active and corresponding stakeholders from all trade sectors such as manufacturers, contractors, organized labour, trade associations, service industry representatives, environmental interest groups, federal and provincial representatives, and regulators.

The refrigerants such as HCFCs, HFCs, and blends thereof are fluorocarbons which have been identified as suitable replacement refrigerant alternatives. The HCFCs have a much lower ozone- depletion potential (ODP) than CFCs. Some HFCs have a higher global-warming potential than HCFCs (although much less than CFCs) but have no ozone-depletion potential. No CFC alternative is available today that is totally benign, and thus a proactive approach to pollution prevention continues to be necessary. Recognizing that these alternatives will still have some impact on the environment, the same methodologies used to eliminate emissions of CFCs should be used to recover and recycle HCFCs and HFCs.

Canada is committed to the goal of total containment and ultimately the elimination of the use of ozone-depleting substances, in harmony with other developed countries around the world.

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