Refrigerants: building a more sustainable future


05 October 2022

A-Gas managing director John Ormerod reports on the main challenge facing our industry as we prepare for the Chillventa exhibition in Germany. 

As we head for Chillventa, without doubt, sustainability is the greatest challenge facing our industry. The circularity rate relating to the materials that we produce and re-use is just three per cent. This means there is so much more we can do to ensure that large quantities of refrigerant are re-used and not released into the atmosphere. 

By adopting the opposite to the take, make and dispose business model we are forced to seek greater efficiencies and make better use of what we already have. At A-Gas our industry-leading circular economy approach to the complete lifecycle management of refrigerants reduces the carbon footprint of the industries we serve. 

But we have to offer our customers the right tools to handle their own individual sustainability challenges. The supplier, original equipment manufacturer (OEM), installer, and end-user all view this differently. We operate in a heavily regulated industry and our goal is to ensure that in whatever area our customers are working, we all buy into doing the right thing.

The key driver is to continue to support and educate the industry on the added values and benefits of sustainability – particularly our customers. We have to help them understand what is possible, the solutions available and how they can help to lower the carbon footprint of their business.

Good for business

Adopting the use of low global warming refrigerants has an important role to play but an increasing focus on sustainability together with greater environmental, social, and governance responsibility will really make the difference. Regulation will have an influence but at the end of the day the customer will drive the direction of industry travel.

Enhancing the environment by reducing the use of global warming gases and preventing their release into the atmosphere is good for business. The reclamation and destruction of refrigerants form part of a flourishing carbon offset market in the US – and there is no reason why this cannot happen in the UK and across the rest of Europe. The offsets are generated by displacing the production of virgin refrigerants or, in some cases, the permanent removal of legacy CFC refrigerants through destruction. 

The offsets are verified by independent carbon registries. This pragmatic environmental solution is speeding up the phase down of greater amounts of ozone depleting and high global warming refrigerants and importantly providing an incentive to properly dispose of end-of-life gases.

All carbon offsets available through A-Gas meet the necessary accredited third-party standards and rigorous verification processes required. This standard determines the quality that every project must meet for greenhouse gas emission reductions to become a tradeable environmental commodity.

By buying carbon offsets, customers can demonstrate to their stakeholders and investors how they are contributing to their environmental, social and governance performance by mitigating climate risk and improving sustainability in a global context.

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A-Gas continues to expand its services and technologies dealing with the destruction of high global warming refrigerants unfit for further use – preventing their release into the atmosphere – but at the heart of our journey to Net Zero is the recovery and reuse of refrigerants. If you want to cut carbon emissions this ticks all the boxes. 
Any refrigerant that is reused rules out the need to rely on virgin materials in production and that is a key part of being a more environmentally-focused business. As long as gases are reused and not emitted into the atmosphere, they are not harming the environment. 

Fully reclaimed

Refrigerants sent to A-Gas reprocessing centres undergo chemical analysis, are cleaned of contaminants and pass through our reclamation and separation plant to create a product that matches the virgin refrigerant specification. This refrigerant becomes fully reclaimed product and is returned to the market in line with the AHRI 700 standard. 
Reclaimed refrigerant is quota free and gases saved from disposal and returned to use also reduce raw material usage, energy consumption and unnecessary transport normally associated with virgin production.

A-Gas Rapid Recovery, the F-Gas compliant on-site recovery service, is a fine example of how refrigerant recovery can be made easy. Large quantities of refrigerant can be removed swiftly and safely by our mobile A-Gas Rapid Recovery teams before being transported to our reprocessing centres. 

Further incentivising the reclamation of refrigerants as well as the recovery and destruction of gases where reuse is not appropriate should become the basis of any future decisions if policy makers are serious about making a real difference to reducing potential emissions overall.

Recovery for reclamation ensures that gases are not vented or leaked into the atmosphere and also avoids the need to produce the equivalent quantity of virgin refrigerants. The best way to achieve ambitious environmental targets is for policy makers to acknowledge the role reclaimed products have in bridging the gap between ambitious policy and practical reality. 

On an annual basis if we were to add together all of the used gases that our expert teams across the globe recovered, reclaimed or repurposed in 2021, its CO2 could be expressed as the equivalent to 1.7 million cars off the road or 116 million trees planted.  

A-Gas has pledged to become a Net Zero company by 2035. Our dedicated Towards Zero, Together campaign puts net-zero at the top of our agenda. It encompasses three key areas – our dedication to stay safe, protecting our environment and preventing emissions leaking to the atmosphere. 

To pursue this ambitious agenda, A-Gas is continuing to invest in its people, processes, innovation and technology to expand its service offering and drive towards its sustainability pledge.

But it is important that end-users and installers understand and have a stake in what we are doing. Refrigerants are a finite resource and sustainability is as relevant to us as it is to our customers. It is not only about protecting the environment, it is also about business. If the industry is not focusing on managing refrigerants properly, it will be wasting money and that is not a recipe for a good business model.

The A-Gas team will be available at Chillventa to talk about how we can help you lower your carbon footprint. Find out more about the ways in which A-Gas can assist with the  reclamation and recovery of refrigerants. Our experts will also be there to advise on the supply of low GWP refrigerants, the lifecycle management of gases and end of life destruction of refrigerants to prevent harm to our planet. Supporting our customers on the road to sustainability is our top priority. 

  • Visit A-Gas at Chillventa: Hall 7, Booth 7-340.