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Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) CEO, Glenn Evans, talks exclusively to CCN about the organisation’s immediate plans and how the council will accommodate Australia’s HFC phasedown which officially begins on January 1, 2018.

CCN: What are ARC’s plans for the immediate future?

Evans: The ARCTick scheme regulates gases which are ozone depleting and synthetic greenhouse gases. Due to Government policy, over time the import and use of these gases will be phased-down, to be replaced by natural and low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants with little, or no impact on the environment.

However, this change is expected to happen over time so regulations on the use, purchase and sale of synthetic refrigerants will need to continue for the foreseeable future.

ARC’s role as the industry’s peak body and national licensing authority, a role that is critical to establishing and maintaining a qualified and professional industry workforce, means we are currently implementing a strategy which incorporates a national, skills based, voluntary accreditation scheme to cover natural and low GWP refrigerants.

The accreditation scheme is intended to further upskill the industry so that technicians can operate safely and assist in the adoption of new technologies.

CCN: How will the HFC phasedown impact industry?

Evans: Synthetic refrigerants have been the industry standard refrigerant for over 30 years. The market is slowly evolving to natural and low GWP refrigerants, however synthetic refrigerants are likely to remain the bulk of the refrigerant market for a number of years.

Natural and low GWP refrigerants will present significant changes to the tools, working practices, component standards, workplace safety considerations and training for the industry.

While these refrigerants have little, to no impact on the environment if emitted, they have their own challenges such as their flammability, toxicity and high operating pressures. If emitted synthetic refrigerants are environmentally damaging, however the ARCTick scheme is in place to limit any emissions.

CCN: How will a nationally consistent license based on refrigerants actually work?

Evans: Australia already has a nationally consistent licence based on refrigerants which has been in place since 2005. It serves a number of vital functions for the industry:

Ensures only qualified and professional technicians can handle refrigerant
Ensures only authorised businesses can purchase, store and sell refrigerant
Any ongoing non-compliance can be dealt with by non-renewal. No authorisation, means no refrigerant purchase. This effectively means RAC businesses cannot operate if they are not doing the right thing.

There are similar successful schemes around the world such as the UK F Gas scheme and the Netherlands schemes.

The ARCTick licence scheme has been recognised by COAG who compared the ARCTick scheme to similar state-based occupational licences and found it to have the greatest net-benefit to industry.

CCN: How do you respond to calls for a skills-based licence?

Evans: The ARCTick scheme is a skills based national licence scheme and services over 85,000 licensed businesses and individuals. It is extremely effective and efficient, acknowledged internationally and independently as one of the world’s best (ARHI report 8018 – Review of Refrigerant Management Programs).

The policy driver for the ARCTick scheme is environmental protection, as opposed to State occupational schemes which are Consumer protection, however, as COAG has independently confirmed – there is no difference between the two “on the ground” which was made clear in the ‘Decision Regulation Impact Statement – Proposal for national licencing of the refrigeration and air-conditioning occupations 2013’.

COAG found that the ARCTick scheme is the most effective and efficient RAC licensing scheme in Australia.

CCN: Why do you think it is so effective?

Evans: The ARCTick scheme is a unique and successful partnership between industry, Government and the ARC, who’s Board and membership is made up of all the mainstream refrigeration and air conditioning associations, Australia-wide.
In addition, one of the key aspects of the validity of any licence scheme is compliance.

Last year alone the ARC revoked 74 licences for non-compliance. There currently are 3 State schemes, and to the best of our knowledge combined they have not revoked a single licence

CCN: No scheme is perfect.

Evans: The shortfall of the ARCTick licence scheme is that it effectively covers 95 per cent of the market, but it does not cover natural and low GWP refrigerants which will grow over time as a percentage of the market.

However the ARC is putting in place a voluntary accreditation scheme to cover these refrigerants. This scheme will be up and running this year.

What is the ARC?

The Australian Refrigeration Council Ltd (ARC) is the peak body for the refrigeration and air conditioning industry in Australia, servicing over 85,000 individuals and businesses.

Primarily, the ARC administers a refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) licence scheme (ARCTick), on behalf of the Australian Government. This is a national, skills-based licence scheme which has been in place since 2005.

The scheme operates under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 and covers refrigerants that are ozone depleting and synthetic greenhouse gases.

These gases make up approximately 90 per cent of the market. With a low likelihood of businesses in the industry only using the remaining 10 per cent of gases (natural and alternative refrigerants), it is fair to say the ARCTick scheme covers over 95 per cent of the industry.

In addition, the ARC provides leadership, value and knowledge to refrigeration and air condition technicians and businesses through:

Licensing, accreditation, regulatory assistance
Technical advice
Preparing technicians for future technologies
Actively promoting training quality
Connecting customers to
ARC-licensed businesses
Free promotional materials for
ARC-licensed businesses

Helping industry to “build their businesses” through various services and campaigns.

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