Attendees at HARDI's Annual Conference in Orlando last month couldn't say R-22 often enough, given how important the issue of refrigerants was to them.
While HARDI members and the Refrigeration Council in particular await the Environmental Protection Agency's final ruling on the R-22 refrigerant issue, the council also addressed the growing issue of reclamation during last month's annual conference. [Editor's note: As of press time, the EPA has not issued its final rulings.]
The council hopes to establish an information base about the reclamation efforts so that wholesalers will have a clearer grasp of related issues, challenges and opportunities, given the change from R-22 to other refrigerants. Using a broad perspective, the council wants to know precisely which companies consider themselves to be reclaimers of R-22, what methods or procedures they use and whether they are following and implementing statutory guidelines for handling R-22 responsibly.
“We want to ensure quality reclamation and channel integrity,” says Bill Bergamini, refrigeration council vice chair and president of Countryside, IL-based ILCO Inc. “The market is changing, and the channel is changing. Traditionally, refrigerants went to market through HARDI wholesalers. Now we're looking at so many different players, such as importers and repackagers, and we're trying to determine where they fit into this new picture.” According to Bergamini, one of the issues the organization must grapple with is whether these new players are suppliers to wholesalers or whether they are competitors.
One approach to clarify the issue is to develop a task force within the industry that would examine the issues and provide a blueprint for both how to proceed and how to better identify the role of companies in the reclamation process, says Jon Perry, refrigeration council chair and president of Rock Hill, SC-based C.C. Dickson Co.
At the conference, Perry asked for volunteers to join a reclamation task force, which may take the shape of a subcouncil under the refrigeration council. Perry stressed that such a task force would be critical in helping wholesalers, and existing HARDI reclaimers and suppliers, determine the direction and recommendations the council might suggest to wholesalers as this part of the industry takes on greater importance. They would then make recommendations to HARDI.
The council has already taken an important first step in gathering data by conducting a survey of reclaimers and suppliers in October. The survey asked both parties for information about volume changes for R-22 and other refrigerant sales during 2009 and a prediction for 2010. They expect to release the results in the near future.
The council also intends to expand this survey to include wholesalers before the next HARDI conference, says Perry. It is important that the refrigeration council develops a clear picture of wholesalers' views and practices regarding the reclamation process and refrigeration sales in general.
The results of the survey and subsequent guidelines would, at least in part, provide HARDI members with a best practices check list, which would allow them to gauge their own progress.
For example, guidelines would help clarify issues such as the seemingly simple yet important issue of who is a reclaimer. Is it a firm that actually conducts the separation and distillation of the product or is it someone who only removes it from the premises?
Guidelines would also benefit reclaimers, says Bergamini, because they need a standard that sets them apart from those who operate in a less ethical manner by not following the rules and enforcing the government guidelines that dictate the proper reclamation process.
Tom Peric' is the editor of HVACR Distribution Business magazine. Contact him at 856/874-0049 or [email protected].