When released into the atmosphere they have the potential to deplete the earth’s protective ozone layer and to contribute to climate change.
Since the late 1980s in Australia, the law has required the refrigeration and air conditioning industry to deal responsibly with ozone-depleting gases. In response to the Montreal Protocol, contractors must recover the gases and wholesalers must accept them for safe reprocessing or destruction.
The refrigerant gases that contribute to ozone depletion, as listed in the Montreal Protocol, include among others:
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC): R11, R12, R115
- Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC): R22, R123, R124
Early in 2003, RRA expanded the recovery program to include the synthetic greenhouse gas refrigerant groups noted in the Kyoto Protocol which include among others:
- Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC): R32, R134a, R125, R143a, R152a
- Perfluorocarbons (PFC): R23, R218
In December 2003,the Australian Parliament made it mandatory for the refrigeration and air conditioning industry to recover, return and safely dispose of HFCs and PFCs, in the same manner as CFCs and HCFCs by passing the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act.