New Zealand’s refrigerants industry has the potential to be at the forefront of action on climate change through product stewardship, says sustainability expert Darren Patterson.

Action on refrigerants - perfluorocarbons (PFC) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) – is the number one action worldwide on tackling climate change, he says. “But to do this there needs to be an all-of-industry approach to the proper management of refrigerants, from their creation to installation and disposal.”

A working group has been established to investigate how to improve stewardship of the gases in New Zealand. This project is being managed by Hastings-based product stewardship specialists 3R Group.

The Working Group has been established to represent the interests of the key industries affected by a priority product declaration, including refrigeration and air conditioning, motor vehicle industry (automotive air conditioning), refrigerant wholesalers, manufacturers and distributors and other significant industry stakeholders.

Under the current Waste Minimisation Act 2008, if the Minister for the Environment declares refrigerants a priority product, a co-regulatory stewardship scheme must be established. “The Ministry has already signalled its intentions to act on high priority waste streams, such as refrigerants, tyres and e-waste,” Darren says.

Controlling refrigerant gases is vital to tackling climate change as, once released into the atmosphere, they can be thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide with respect to their global warming potential, he says. “It’s therefore vital all synthetic refrigerants are correctly installed, maintained, collected and destroyed or reused to minimise this risk.”

New Zealand is also bound by international agreement to phase down HFCs. In 2016 the Government adopted the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which requires the phasing down of HFCs worldwide from the beginning of 2020 and will cease importing HFCs in 2036.

RECOVERY, a voluntary product stewardship scheme for refrigerants has been operating in New Zealand since 1993. However, the whole industry isn’t involved.

Product stewardship sees producers, importers and retailers take responsibility for their products and ensure they are re-used, recycled or properly disposed of at the end of their useful life.

“It’s vital we have all the players involved to make the scheme as effective as possible. A co-regulated scheme ‘levels the playing field’ as all companies would be required to participate,” Darren says.

The project has the support of RECOVERY as well as the Motor Trade Association (MTA), the Heat Pump Suppliers Association (HPSA), the Institute of Refrigeration, Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers (IRHACE), the Climate Control Companies Association of NZ (CCCANZ) and Refrigerant License New Zealand (RLNZ).

Consultation is a vital part of the process and now is the chance for the industry and public to have a say. You can view the first report at the and take part in the consultation questionnaire, also on the site. The consultation questionnaire will close Monday, 5 August 2019.

Image: 3R Group Business Development Director Darren Patterson is leading the work on a mandatory product stewardship for refrigerant gases in New Zealand.

For further information please contact: Toni Bye Marketing & Communications Manager 3R Group Ltd 021 022 14586