The HFC (hydrofluorocarbons) phase-down has been initiated by the Australian Government to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Australia will start a phase-down of HFC imports on 1 January 2018 and reach an 85% reduction from 2036.
Industry standard automotive refrigerant R134a is an HFC refrigerant and requires an ARCTick refrigerant handling licence to handle, and an ARCTick refrigerant trading authorisation to buy, sell and store, as per the requirements set out in the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995. From 2018, imports of this refrigerant will be begin to reduce.
This means that the automotive industry will see alternative refrigerants become more common in Australia.
R1234yf and R744 (carbon dioxide) are two refrigerants that have been adopted by some global vehicle manufacturers as alternatives to R134a.
Both refrigerants and the systems designed for them will present significant changes to the tools, working practices, component standards and workplace safety considerations relating to repair, service and refrigerant recovery.
These refrigerants are not regulated under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management legislation unless they are in a blend containing an HFC. As such a ARCTick handling licence or a trading authorisation is not required where there is certainty that these refrigerants occur in their pure form. Where there is a risk of a blend containing a HFC, for example when degassing vehicles that are not clearly labelled as only containing a pure refrigerant, an ARCtick handling licence or trading authority is required.
While there is a transition to more environmentally friendly refrigerants, R134a will still be available, and in older systems, and systems designed to operate on both R134a and alternatives for years to come. It is a legal requirement that automotive workshops who provide air conditioning services continue to hold an ARCTick refrigerant handling licence and refrigerant trading authorisation if R134a is being used or present in systems being serviced.
Before working with any refrigerant, please refer to vehicle manufacturers’ recommendations, industry standards and the Automotive Codes of Practice.