• US Congress has approved HFC allowances for 2024.
    US Congress has approved HFC allowances for 2024.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced new rulings to accelerate the phase down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the bipartisan American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act.

The first new action is to restrict the use of HFCs where alternatives are already available.

The second action is a proposed rule to better manage and reuse existing HFCs by reducing wasteful leaks from equipment and supporting a growing American industry for HFC recycling and reclamation.

Under the AIM Act, the Biden-Harris Administration is phasing down HFCs to achieve a 40 per cent reduction of HFCs starting in 2024 and an 85 per cent reduction by 2036.

The rule bans HFCs in certain equipment and sets a limit on the global warming potentials (GWPs) of the HFCs that can be used in each subsector, with compliance dates ranging from 2025 to 2028.

For example, starting in 2025, air conditioners and heat pumps will be required to use refrigerants with a global warming potential (GWP) under 700.

From 2027, most new-construction supermarkets will be required to use refrigerants with GWP less than 150.

At the same time HFC containers will be subject to new tracking rules and any disposable refrigerant cylinders will need to be sent to reclaimers for proper evacuation before recycling or disposal.

Most countries have already banned disposable cylinders but the EPA said it will continue to monitor the current situation.

President & CEO of the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute, Stephen Yurek, said the provisions provided under the Technology Transitions of the AIM Act are critical to ensuring an orderly transition from higher GWP refrigerants to lower GWP refrigerants while creating American jobs and protecting the environment.

Last week, EPA also issued HFC allowances, which allow companies to produce or import bulk HFCs for calendar year 2024.

In 2024, the overall number of allowances will be significantly lower than in 2023, as Congress has directed a reduction to 60 per cent of the historic baseline levels of HFCs, down from 90 per cent available this year.