Many appliances contain refrigerants that must be removed prior to disposal of the unit. This page provides information for appliance recyclers on recycling requirements.
Five steps to compliance
Step 1: Obtain technician certification
Persons who engage in the business of recycling appliances that may contain refrigerant must obtain technician certification through a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved program. The program will issue a certificate upon the technician's successful completion of an exam. Four types of certifications are available. The type of certification needed depends on the type of appliances being recycled (see the following table). Visit the U.S. EPA's Web site for a list of approved certification programs.
|Type of appliances being recycled||Type of certification required|
|Small appliances - Room air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, and dehumidifiers||Type I (can be obtained by taking a mail-in test)|
|High- and very-high-pressure appliances, except the appliances listed in Row 1 and motor vehicle air conditioners (MVACs)||Type II (an on-site test must be taken)|
|Low-pressure appliances||Type III (an on-site test must be taken)|
|Low, high, and very high-pressure appliances including those listed in Row 1. (This certification includes Type I, II, and III)||Universal (an on-site test must be taken)|
Step 2: Obtain refrigerant recovery equipment
- Refrigerants must be recovered from appliances prior to processing, dismantling, recycling, or crushing. Effective November 15, 1995, all substitute refrigerants, such as R-134a, must be recovered.
For most appliances, a minimum level of refrigerant removal is required: EPA table of minimum levels
For small appliances, refrigerant recovery equipment must:
- Recover at least 90% of the refrigerant in an appliance with a functioning compressor or at least 80% of the refrigerant in an appliance with a compressor that is not functioning,
- evacuate a small appliance to a pressure of 4 inches of mercury vacuum.
Intentional venting of refrigerants during maintenance, service, repair or disposal of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment is prohibited. Exemptions exist for certain hydrocarbon-based refrigerants, ammonia, carbon dioxide and water.
Step 3: Manage your recovered refrigerant correctly
- Recover refrigerants as soon as possible after receiving appliances.
- When recovering refrigerants make sure different types of refrigerants are not mixed. Recover each type of refrigerant into its own container. Reclaimers and wholesalers will pay for used refrigerant that is not mixed, but they will charge you for taking for mixed refrigerant.
- Used refrigerants must be recovered into Department of Transportation approved cylinders.
- Refrigerant recovered from appliances must be sent to a U.S.-EPA-certified reclaimer to be reclaimed before it can be sold to someone else for reuse. A list of EPA certified reclaimers can be found at the EPA's Web site.
- Recycling means to extract the refrigerant from an appliance and clean the refrigerant for reuse. Reclaiming is reprocessing refrigerant to at least the purity specified in AHRI Standard 700-2016, and to verify this purity with a laboratory analysis.
Step 4: Register your recovery equipment
- Complete the form entitled below, "Refrigerant Recovery or Recycling Device Acquisition Certification Form," and send it to the U.S. EPA's regional office in Chicago. The address is located on the back of the form. It is recommended that this certification form be sent by certified mail to ensure its receipt by the U.S. EPA.
- Effective January 1, 2018, persons and firms involved in the final disposal of appliances will no longer be required to certify that they have acquired the necessary refrigerant recovery equipment.
Step 5: Keep accurate and up-to-date records
- Keep copies of the technicians' certifications at the place of business or work site, if different.
- Keep copies of the "Verification of Refrigerant Removal" form at the place of business or work site, if different, for at least three years.
- Technicians who dispose of appliances with 5 to 50 lbs of refrigerant must keep records of the type and amount of each refrigerant recovered, the date and location of recovery. Records also must be maintained of the amount of refrigerant transferred offsite for reclamation or destruction, the recipient of the refrigerant and the date of the transfer.
When appliances arrive at your facility with the refrigerant already removed, the supplier of the appliance must fill out the form entitled "Verification of Refrigerant Removal." This form may act as a contract (for example, between an individual and an appliance recycler or between an appliance recycler and a scrap metal facility) to document that the refrigerant has been removed from the appliance(s) prior to delivery. For more information about recording keeping, read the following fact sheet: Record-keeping requirements for small appliance recycling
2016 extension of Section 608 regulations to HFCs
In 2016, the US Environmental Protection issued final rules under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act that updated then existing requirements related to ozone depleting substances, such as CFCs and HCFCs, and extended them to substitutes like HFCs, perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs). Under these rule revisions, technicians must handle HFC, PFC and HFO refrigerants and appliances that contain HFC, PFC and HFO refrigerants in the same manner that they historically have handled ozone-depleting substances and appliances that contain ozone depleting substances.
Caution regarding appliance processors
The MPCA cautions individuals to evaluate the services and compliance status of any company used to manage refrigerants and waste. Individuals and businesses are responsible for insuring that any company with whom they contract for products or services complies with the requirements of state and federal law.