Details of bans on the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F gases) in new equipment like refrigeration systems.
The EU has introduced the following bans on the sale of equipment containing fluorinated greenhouse gas (F gas).
The bans don’t affect the buying and selling of second-hand equipment.
Some bans only apply to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) or perfluorocarbons (PFCs), or gases with specific global warming potentials. All F gases, including HFCs and PFCs, are listed with their global warming potentials in the table of F gases regulated by the EU.
Some bans only apply to ‘hermetically sealed’ equipment. That’s equipment where both of the following apply:
- any part of the product that contains F gas is welded or brazed shut, or permanently sealed in another way
- the product has a tested leakage rate of less than 3 grams per year
A system that meets these 2 conditions is considered hermetically sealed even if it has capped valves or capped service ports to allow access for repairs and maintenance.
HFCs and PFCs have been banned in non-confined direct evaporation systems since 2007.
A non-confined direct evaporation system is a situation where a refrigerant can escape directly into the atmosphere, eg a bath of liquid nitrogen with no container to prevent evaporation.
HFCs with global warming potentials above 150 are banned in domestic fridges and freezers.
HFCs with global warming potentials of more than 2,500 will be banned in all refrigeration systems. This will mainly affect the use of HFC 404A in commercial and industrial refrigeration systems.
The only exception will be for use in systems that cool products to below -50 degrees Celsius (°C)
All F gases with global warming potentials of more than 150 will be banned as the refrigerant or foam blowing agent in any hermetically sealed system.
This will mainly affect the use of:
- HFC 134a as a refrigerant
- HFCs 245fa and 365mfc as foam blowing agents
F gases with global warming potentials of more than 150 will also be banned in central pack systems with a rated cooling capacity of 40 kW or more.
Central pack systems involve several refrigerated display cases connected to a central refrigeration system located in a plant room, or outdoors.
This ban only applies to refrigeration systems used in commercial settings, like convenience stores and supermarkets. It doesn’t apply to refrigeration systems used in industry, eg in chemical processes.
For primary circuits in cascade systems, this ban will only apply to F gases with global warming potentials above 1,500.
F gases with global warming potentials above 150 have been banned in one component foam aerosols since 2008.
From 2020 and 2023
From 2020 HFCs with global warming potentials of more than 150 will be banned in extruded polystyrene foam (XPS).
From 2023 HFCs with global warming potentials of more than 150 will be banned in all other foams, including polyurethane.
Air conditioning and heat pump systems
HFCs with global warming potentials above 150 have been banned in the air conditioning systems of new car ranges since 2013. From 2017 this ban will be extended to the air conditioning systems of all new cars (including new cars from existing ranges).
From 2020 HFCs with global warming potentials above 150 will be banned in movable air-conditioning equipment. Air conditioning equipment is movable if the end user can move it between rooms.
From 2025 F gases with a global warming potential above 750 will be banned in ‘single split’ systems that contain less than 3 kg of refrigerant. Single split systems involve one cooling coil connected to a remote condensing unit.
There are no bans for larger air-conditioning or heat pump systems, eg chillers or larger split systems.
Aerosol F gases
HFCs with global warming potentials higher than 150 have been banned in ‘novelty’ aerosols or signal horns since 2009.
Novelty aerosols are aerosols sold for entertainment or decorative purposes, for example ‘silly string’.
From 2018 HFCs with a global warming potential above 150 will be banned in technical aerosols. Technical aerosols are generally used in industrial and manufacturing processes. Household aerosols like deodrants aren’t technical aerosols.
The ban won’t apply if:
- HFCs are required to meet national safety standards
- the aerosol is used for medical applications
F gases in fire protection system
PFC have been banned in fire protection systems since 2007.
From 2016 HFC 23 will be banned in new fire protection systems.
F gases have been banned in the following items since at least 2008:
- non-refillable containers for bulk product
Military equipment is exempt from all F gas bans.
This only applies to military hardware like tanks and aircraft.
It doesn’t apply to non-military equipment used by the military. For example refrigeration systems used in army catering facilities would not be exempt from F gas bans.
The European Commission may also grant:
- a 4 year exemption to ban if you can show that the ban creates technical or safety issues
- an exemption allowing you to use a banned gas in a specific piece of equipment, if you can show that total greenhouse gas emissions over the life cycle of the equipment, including energy consumption, will be lower as a result
Contact the F gas team at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if you’d like to seek an exemption from the EU: