Refrigerant Disposal Tip: What to do With Contaminated Refrigerant

May 19, 2010
Remember: venting is against the law

In the natural course of your business, you’re bound to end up with refrigerant for which you have no need. Government regulations are very strict on what you can and can’t do with used refrigerant. The guidelines are set up to avoid the damaging effects refrigerants can have on the atmosphere.

According to amendments made to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA's) Clean Air Act in the 1990s, it is “against the law for any person, in the course of maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of an appliance or industrial process refrigeration, to knowingly vent or otherwise release or dispose of any Class I or Class II substance used as a refrigerant in a manner which permits such substance to enter the environment.”

The term “appliance” refers to air conditioners, refrigerators, chillers, or freezers used for commercial or residential purposes. In general, if the refrigerant is not contaminated it can be recycled and reused. You can typically take the noncontaminated refrigerant back to the wholesaler for exchange. If the refrigerant is contaminated, you’ll need to send it to a reclamation facility. At the reclamation facility they’ll separate the refrigerant into the individual component refrigerants or incinerate it in accordance with EPA guidelines.

To locate the reclamation facility nearest you, visit this EPA Web site: