Air conditioning and heat pump distributor Logicool has become the first company to be approved as a Refcom Elite Supplier for best practice in refrigerant management.
Certification body Refcom has operated a voluntary Elite scheme since 1994 encouraging working to industry codes of practice and compliance with the latest legislation, with the focus largely on contractors.
Following a suggestion from Logicool owner Karl Richardson to head of Refcom Graeme Fox during preparations for an F-Gas seminar in Birmingham earlier this year, the auditing process has now been amended to encourage the entire supply chain to get involved, leading to the Derbyshire-based distributor receiving the industry-first certification.
F-Gas legislation states that refrigerant, and crucially equipment containing refrigerant, can only be sold to customers with Company F-Gas certification. But there are many examples, particularly with online resellers, of systems being sold in contravention of the regulations.
Richardson said: "We were talking about what could be done to improve the situation and my suggestion was that if we could audit sales of equipment further up the supply chain, it could make a big difference.
"This summer we have been turning away enquiries every day because the potential customer did not have Company F-Gas. But the truth is that there are a lot of systems out there from unscrupulous resellers, or people who are unwittingly working outside the regulations. It's all about who you are selling to and we saw from the feedback at the seminar that there is a lot of traction in the industry for this problem."
Fox established that Elite membership was, in fact, technically already open to suppliers and manufacturers, although not as accessible as it was to installers. Against a heavily regulated backdrop, that made it easier to amend the auditing process and internal framework, although the changes have still taken a solid two months of work.
Fox said: "We all know that the F-Gas regulations have been poorly policed from day one. By having a voluntary code of conduct, the hope is that it will demonstrate the benefits of working to industry best practice. That will help to drive up standards and compliance throughout the industry."
An additional benefit for companies who sign up is that, because they are audited under the Elite scheme, they will no longer be subject to audit under F-Gas, which affects 5% of the register each year.
Fox added: "We really do think this is a significant step. Others are very keen to get signed up; there is a lot of interest and support. We hope that this first approval will drive others to come forward."
Richardson echoed the sentiment, saying: "We are the first supplier to be audited and approved. From the feedback we have had, others will follow."