There is a growing need to adopt a new set of Sustainable Development Goals that aim to “Transform the World”. Change comes with collective effort, mutual understanding and knowledge toward specific goals.
Despite the UN and other international organisations making crucial decisions, the result is far from expected. It made me wonder what it is that we are falling short on? Is it the lack of interest or lack of awareness?
That’s when I had a eureka moment, and it suddenly started to make all sense. Many people don’t know the complicated terms and references that are used when we talk about sustainability. The idea inspired me to create a new series called “The ABCs of Sustainability Development”. I hope that this series of blogs is well received and serves its purpose.
‘Curbing carbon footprint’ has become such a catchphrase in the current economy that it has become a must for every producer and business to not only quantify and acknowledge the amount of carbon in their products but showcase ways to reduce their footprint for a greener future. And in my opinion, that’s exactly how the world should function — we’re on the right track. However, there’s a much more potent culprit, F-gas. These man-made gasses have a global warming effect up to 23,000 times greater than carbon dioxide! For better understanding, refer to this list to find out the carbon equivalent of common f-gases around. Last week I covered the f-gases and ODS briefly — what are they, where are they present and more. This week I want to talk about how businesses should legally comply with f-gas regulations in the UK and what you should be mindful of.
There are legal obligations on all companies and users that own devices and machinery using fluorinated gas — almost all forms of refrigeration, air conditioning and heating systems contain these regulated gasses. Considering their environmental impact, it comes off as no surprise that releasing f-gases into the atmosphere intentionally is deemed a criminal offence.
The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) consistently monitors the use of f-gas, providing the legal framework for compliance and certification for f-gas use.
What are the qualifications to install and work with F-gas equipment?
As per the government guidelines, the following paperwork, obtained from accredited organisations, qualifies your business work with f-gas:
- category 1 certificate to carry out all activities
- category 2 certificate to install, maintain, service and recover refrigerant from systems containing F gas equivalent to less than 5 tonnes of CO2 – calculate the carbon dioxide equivalent of an F gas
- category 3 certificate to recover refrigerant from systems that contain less than 3kg of F gas
- category 4 certificate to check equipment for leaks if you don’t break into the refrigeration circuit
Which F-gases are banned in the UK?
The most widely found f-gas in use, HFC 404A was banned recently. This ban affected industrial refrigeration systems, medium and large commercial refrigeration systems (like central pack systems in supermarkets) and large transportation cooling systems on trains and ships to name a few. Here’s a government guideline to all banned f-gases (that are commonly found) for refilling, as per the 2020 regulations:
Global warming potential
|Mass of F gas banned from use to refill equipment (kg)|
What are the F-Gas compliance rules in the UK?
When it comes to your business, all owners, facility managers, or lobby managers — whoever is in charge of air conditioning and heating systems — are legally required to register themselves if they own devices holding over 3kg of refrigerants, have qualifying equipment’s leak tested and maintain transparency of the maintenance checks and servicing repairs. Individuals who may carry out this work, too, must hold a Stationary Equipment Qualification Company Certificate certificate, approved by DEFRA.
The aforementioned agency alongside local authorities enforce the f-gas certification and compliance rules. It must be noted that these regulations apply to all organisations regardless of size owning machinery with the CO2 equivalent charge weight of 5 tonnes and above.
Here’s a quick chart explaining the inspection frequency:
|Tonnes CO2 Equivalent Charge Weight||FGas inspections|
|5-50 tonnes||Once every 12 months|
|50-500 tonnes||Once every 6 months|
|500 and over tonnes||Once every 3 months|
Businesses are also required to install a leak detection system on the qualifying equipment containing the FGas equivalent to more than 500 tonnes of CO2. This system too is mandated for inspection, checks or servicing once every 12 months.
Businesses must also label their manufactured products explicitly that contain regulated f-gas. This label would ideally include the industrial name of the gas, mass of the f-gas in the device, the weight of the f-gas in terms of carbon dioxide and its global warming potential. Furthermore, the product must have a label for ‘hermetically sealed F gas’ if any part of the product contains welded or capped parts blocking the f-gas, regardless of its guarantee of being leak-proof.
At the end of your equipment’s lifespan, correct recycling, reclaiming or recovering is necessary — all done by qualified technicians. All f-gas must be recovered from equipment when it’s technically feasible and the cost of recovery is worth the benefit to the environment. This includes recovery from industrial-strength refrigeration systems, stationary air conditioning devices and heating pumps (that are not fitted in buildings and are immobile), stationary fire protection systems and high voltage switchgear. In other cases, it can be recycled or reclaimed.