Talbot Gee, vice president of Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI), says while HARDI doesn’t endorse any particular refrigerant program, it has found wholesalers to be underrepresented as a great resource for refrigerant recovery services to HVACR contractors. If more contractors link up with those distributors’ recovery services, the greater the chance the industry will avoid the negative ramifications of foot dragging.
“HARDI supports refrigerant reclamation for two key reasons. First of all, it’s federal law; you should be doing it,” Gee says. “And, if this industry doesn’t reclaim more refrigerant, we’re going to quickly run out of R-22. If our industry doesn’t increase the amount of refrigerant it recovers, I think there may be even more pressure on us from federal and state regulators to do so. So it’s almost a survival requirement more than anything else right now.”
Gee believes the HVACR industry has benefited from an increase in refrigerant recovery programs and initiatives. There are more wholesalers offering recovery services than there have ever been before, and we know there are more wholesale locations offering refrigerant recovery than ever before.
“We’re chipping away at some of the barriers to proper recovery,” Gee says. “Every major market in the U.S. has some outlet for contractors or technicians to take their recovered refrigerant.”
After January 2010, the supply of R-22 will decline by 75% of baseline levels. It is unclear whether manufacturers will have ceased production of R-22 systems despite the regulatory intent that the refrigerant will only be available for service needs. And while demand should also decrease, as the industry continues its transition to alternative refrigerants, there will still be a need for R-22 in the huge installed base of equipment still in operation.
“Those existing systems aren’t going to be replaced overnight, and there’s going to be a much longer demand than supply for R-22. It makes no sense for any R-22 to not be properly recovered,” Gee asserts.