EPA Proposes to Phase Out Refrigerant
President Obama’s Climate Action Plan aims at transitioning traditional methods of energy use into sustainable and environmentally-friendly sources, and the EPA is following alongside these goals by releasing proposals to cut back on many of the common HFC refrigerants that are in use today. The Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program is EPA's program to evaluate and regulate substitutes for the ozone-depleting chemicals that are being phased out under the stratospheric ozone protection provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA). This transition means that in the near future, we can expect to see manufacturers striving to make the deadline - January 1, 2016 - and clean up their ozone-depleting compounds in favor of more sustainable and friendly sources.
So what exactly is the SNAP program demanding by 2016? The restrictions would be relevant to new and retrofitted cooling models. The refrigerant being used will have to fit into certain guidelines, and these guidelines exclude many common refrigerants that we use today. For instance, Some of the refrigerants on the SNAP chopping block include R404A, R507, and R134a as well as many lesser-known refrigerants that could impact you. Refrigerant Authority notes, ‘This proposal could hit the supermarket and retail food refrigeration industry in particular as R404A and R507A are some of the most commonly used refrigerants in their stand-alone equipment, condensing units, direct supermarket systems and indirect supermarket systems.’
While this may not mean a whole lot for your business right now, you can expect to see some sort of change in the near future. There are truly only a few changes that are possible: Either the manufacturer will need to develop new refrigerants or units to phase out the old refrigerants (which seems difficult or nearly impossible within the deadline restriction), or the EPA will need to extend their timeline to account for the time it will likely take to create these new ‘miracle’ refrigerants and/or units. When you consider purchasing used equipment, you should factor in the cost of these consequences, as freon may become unavailable as policies evolve, forcing you to either pay a higher cost for out-of-date freon or simply purchase a newer model anyway!
We all support sustainable and environmentally-friendly products, and in a perfect world, our footprints would be much smaller than they are today. We hope to work towards that goal, but unless manufacturers stumble upon a new product that would fit the proposed guidelines in the very near future, we probably won’t see a drastic change by the deadline provided by the EPA. We at Ckitchen will keep you updated and informed on any changes to products and units that will be impacted by the changes!