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Changes in refrigerant – what you need to know

The regulations surrounding refrigeration and air conditioning are constantly changing; commonly used refrigerants are being phased out and revised refrigerant regulations are being phased in.

We hate to mention the dreaded ‘B’ word…but Brexit could have a huge impact on the F-Gas Regulations; something which we all need to be mindful of. Although the UK hasn’t officially left the EU yet, below we’ve outlined current legislation and how that could change post-Brexit.


Many refrigeration and air conditioning systems use HFC refrigerants like R-404A, R-134A and R-410A; which are guilty of having an extremely high global warming impact if they’re released into the atmosphere. That’s where the F-Gas Regulations come in.

The EU F-Gas Regulations controls the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases in Europe and has significant impact for users of HFC refrigerants. Owners of refrigeration and air conditioning systems located in the EU (including the UK) need to ensure their systems are compliant with the F-Gas Regulations and that the regulations are taken into account when selecting refrigerants for new equipment.

HFC cuts

In October 2016, international controls on the use of HFCs were put in place; which in turn has led to a global phase-down in HFC use.

The HFC phase-down is the most critical aspect of the F-Gas Regulations and will have a huge impact on the uses of refrigerant. 2018 saw an approximate 40% cut of HFC being supplied to the EU – one of the biggest reductions yet. By 2030, only 20% of the volume of HFCs that were sold in 2015 will be available.

Moving forward

The F-Gas Regulation has initiated the HFC phase-down as part of a pledge to cull refrigerants over a certain threshold. In January 2020, refrigerants with a GWP above 2500 will be banned. This will mainly affect R-404A equipment, but is also relevant to systems using refrigerants like R-507, R-434A and R-422D. There is; however, an exception for smaller pieces of equipment that contains less than 10kg of R-404A and for systems that cool products below -50°c.

If you have equipment that is affected by the upcoming ban, you have 3 options:

  • Retrofit the existing system with a lower GWP refrigerant

  • Service the system using reclaimed refrigerant, if available

  • Replace the system with one that uses a lower GWP refrigerant

A number of new refrigerants are slowly being introduced to the UK market; around 20 new blends have been launched in the last 3 years. Most of the new refrigerants are blends of HFOs and HFCs; which have been designed to mimic the properties of the high GWP refrigerants that are being banned, but are less harmful to the environment.


As of today (8th May 2019), Brexit negotiations are still taking place, meaning organisations still need to comply with the F-Gas Regulations as they stand. The main concern is how the UK would retain and/or engage in the phasing out of F-gases in the marketplace; which as mentioned above is, a predominant factor in the current EU F-Gas Regulations. The phasing out of HFC, production and import quotas are set and monitored at EU level; however measures are being taken to understand how the UK will operate going forward.

We understand the above can be extremely daunting and you may be feeling left in the dark about which steps to take next. Cold Control specialise in the maintenance of refrigeration and air conditioning systems and can review your current setup and advise on where to go next. Call our team today on 0333 305 0573.


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