F-Gas, what it means to foodservice operators & how Alecta can help.
F-Gas is widely used as a refrigerant in commercial catering refrigeration & air conditioning equipment. The UK & The European Union is committed to the control of fluorinated greenhouse gas (F-Gas) emissions, as part of the Kyoto Protocol.
In July 2007 the F-Gas Regulations (Fluorinated Gases Regulations) came into force and is currently under revision. Phasing down in the supply of HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbons), which is the most widely used of the F-Gases is the most important new measure. Phase down is being managed by a freeze in supply, as of 2015. The freeze will be followed by several reduction steps so that, by 2030, European HFC supply would be 21% of 2015 levels.
Manufacturers of refrigeration equipment & refrigerant suppliers are working together to develop alternative gases that have much lower GWP (Global Warming Potential) and ODP (Ozone Depletion Potential). Prices of appliances may be impacted with the research and development involved in launching these new products.
There are many manufacturers & models of refrigeration equipment that already offer the use of refrigerants with lower GWP and ODP, such as hydrocarbon, which is natural and non-toxic. These refrigerants not only have zero ODP and minimal GWP they also have thermal properties, making it a superior refrigerant. The refrigerant charge in a cabinet should be below the 150g threshold for safety reasons as these hydrocarbons are flammable and, otherwise this poses a Health and Safety concern along with the potential of insurance issues. Glycol and carbon dioxide are also available as alternative refrigerants, however, are only suitable in certain applications.
Any operator looking to purchase new refrigeration appliances should seek to purchase models that use a low Ozone Depletion Potential and a low Global Warming Potential.
Alecta can assist with managing your F-Gas safety inspections and provide you with documentation to show evidence that a check has been carried out. F-Gas regulations when it comes to catering refrigeration equipment remains the responsibility of the caterer, operator & users as opposed to those selling or servicing it. With this in mind we as a company can assist the end-user with advice on to comply. F-Gas Regulations main focus is to minimise emissions of F-Gases from products and equipment, through containment, leak reduction and repair and recovery. Prevent leakage – have leaks repaired as soon as possible by certified personnel and keep service and maintenance records detailing quantity and type of F-Gas used.
- A fixed schedule should be adopted to complete regular leak inspections on equipment with a circuit charge of 3kg or more, following the standard leak-checking procedure laid down by the Commission. This can be done by Alecta as your service provider. If any fault, for example leaks are found the user is obligated to have any repairs completed and must be checked within one month of initial fault/leak being identified.
- If a refrigerant system has a charge of over 300kg there must be a fixed leakage detection systems installed in addition.
The responsible person should ensure they employ certified and qualified personnel to carry out correct and safe recovery of F-Gases to ensure their recycling, reclamation or destruction has been done in the correct manner.
However, if the system contains less than 3kg of HFC refrigerant (6kg in a hermetically sealed system) then the obligations on leak checking and record keeping will not apply. If the refrigeration system does not use a refrigerant containing F-Gases, then the regulations do not apply at all.
Companies who employ operatives undertaking activities within the scope of the F-Gas Regulations have to have obtained a Company Certificate to carry out this work and be part of a governing body such as Refcom.
Caterers should check their service provider has this certificate. Amendments to the F-Gas Regulations will ensure that companies manufacturing or importing any equipment that uses hydrofluorocarbons will have to show that their products comply fully with the regulations. When buyers are purchasing they should ask to see the compliance documentation to check what refrigerant is used and ask if it is an HFC.