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Alternative Refrigerants

Condenser coils, shown in this diagram of an air conditioner, contain the refrigerant.

Summary: Refrigerators, HVAC, car and home air conditioners, freezers, supermarket cases and heat pumps all contain refrigerant (Wikipedia). Refrigerants containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrocholorfluorocarbons (HCFCs) were banned under the 1987 Montreal Protocol after they were found to damage the atmosphere’s ozone layer.

Banned refrigerants were replaced by hydroflourocarbons (HFCs), which do not harm the ozone layer but have a global warming potential (GWP) of 1000 to 9000 times greater than carbon dioxide. In 2016, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol banned HFCs beginning in 2019.

However, before 2019 a huge number of units with HFCs were manufactured and installed. If all existing high Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants are allowed to leak this will be the equivalent of adding up to 50 gigatons of CO2 to the atmosphere (Drawdown) 

Goals: Avoid using appliances with refrigerants, replace, recover and destroy high-GWP refrigerants.

  • Insulate and shade buildings rather than use air-conditioning.
  • Recycle (through a RAD Program) old unneeded refrigerators, air conditioners and freezers.
  • When buying a new appliance, make sure it has a low GWP refrigerant (EPA).

How are old refrigerators and air conditioners disposed of in your area? Is there a licensed program for refrigerant removal and recycling?


Existing Programs