Guidelines for Recovery & Recycling
Systems Refrigeration Sector
Phasing out ODS in Developing Countries
Proposal and approval
Ozone Unit (NOU) should be closely involved in the preparation
of the RMP and Country Programme proposals, as well as the
feasibility study for the R&R programme. The RMP and its
individual projects are then approved separately by the
Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund.
Planning and establishment
the planning and establishment of the R&R programme should be
co-ordinated by the NOU, in consultation with the relevant
stakeholders and with the support of local and international
consultants and the relevant Implementing Agency. This chapter
assumes that the NOU is the co-ordinating body for the
establishment of the R&R system.
Operation and monitoring
R&R systems proceed through three
key phases, which are described in the rest of this chapter:
planning, establishment and operation. When they are up and
running, monitoring and review should be carried out to ensure
During the planning phase, the NOU should focus on the following activities:
Collect the necessary data
The first step in establishing the
R&R system is to conduct a baseline survey of the existing
refrigeration sector in order to assess the potential and
economic feasibility of CFC recovery and recycling. Chapter 4
deals in more details with data collection, and provides
templates of data sheets to be used for the data collection and
Evaluate the need
The NOU should evaluate the need for the R&R system under the national ODS phase-out programme. The NOUs recommendations may be discussed internally in the National Environmental Protection Agency or the appropriate institutions within the Ministry of the Environment.
The need for the R&R system depends on factors such as:
The ultimate success of an R&R
system depends on its acceptance by the various stakeholders
refrigeration service companies and their associations,
government bodies, wholesalers and importers and exporters of
CFC refrigerants. It is therefore essential to involve these
organisations in the development of the R&R system, and to
ensure their commitment, at an early stage.
Design the R&R system
There are two types of R&R systems:
decentralised and centralised. In certain cases, a combination
of both types of system is appropriate. These different types of
R&R systems are described in Chapter 5.
Different refrigerants such as R-11,
R-12 or R-502 require different R&R equipment because of their
thermodynamic properties. An overview of the necessary R&R
equipment is provided in Chapter 5, and additional details are
included in Annex 5.
Define equipment specifications and quantities
Once the data is available, and the R&R system designed, the equipment specifications can be defined, and the required quantities of equipment (including vehicles) determined. This has implications for the cost and feasibility of the system. Items, which need to be specified, include:
Evaluate the feasibility and economic viability of the system used for the data collection and presentation.
The feasibility of R&R systems needs
to be investigated for each sub-sector, as well as for the
refrigeration sector as a whole, since the conditions and
performance criteria in each sub-sector may be different.
Appropriate R&R systems should be
selected based on performance criteria such as environmental
impact, cost-effectiveness and profitability. Chapter 6 examines
the feasibility criteria in more detail.
Define the time schedule
The time schedule for the
establishment of the R&R system and the training of the
recipients depends of course on the time required for the
project preparation and approval as well as the logistics for
the purchase and distribution of the equipment.
However, it is more important that
the necessary legislative framework and other support measures
as mentioned in the Chapters 2 and 7 are implemented to ensure
the successful operation of the system.
Prepare project proposals and financing
Once the feasibility of the R&R
system has been demonstrated, the NOU should discuss with the
national/international consultant in charge of preparing the RMP
proposal how the different elements of the R&R system can be
The R&R system may be economically
viable in itself. In this case, the NOU should in consultation
with relevant stakeholders discuss the direct implementation
of the system and ensure the commitment of the stakeholders.
Otherwise, government financing, or
support by the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol,
should be investigated. Project proposals need to include
detailed time schedules and budgets. All financial
considerations should take into account the cost implications of
the necessary support measures, as described in Chapter 7. The
procedures for requesting financial support are described in
reference documents  and .
Once the R&R system has been planned, the NOU should establish a work plan including the following steps:
Each of these steps is briefly described
in the following sections.
The first step in establishing the
R&R system is to identify the workshops, which use CFC
refrigerants. Wholesalers, importers and refrigeration
associations should be approached in order to establish a
register of service workshops. Workshops in the informal sector
may be difficult to identify, as they are usually small and not
registered to any organisation. However, wholesalers, importers
or the larger workshops will often be able to provide
information on the potential number of service workshops in the
When all the workshops have been
identified, they should be informed of the planned R&R system
their full commitment to participation is important.
Purchase and distribute the R&R equipment
The purchase of R&R equipment will usually be co-ordinated by the Implementing Agency. The NOU needs to define the distribution criteria for the equipment, and organise the actual hand-over to the major servicing workshops.
The distribution of the equipment
includes the following activities:
It is advisable to involve
independent experts in the selection, purchase and distribution
of the equipment.
Train and supervise personnel
The local refrigeration service companies scheduled to participate in the R&R system and receive R&R equipment should be closely involved in project preparation. Their service technicians should receive one-day introductory training on the specific features of the R&R equipment.
The trained trainers receive a
participation certificate issued by the Government and the are
supposed to train the remaining service technicians in the
country on good practices in refrigeration.
Establish transport logistics
All R&R systems require logistical arrangements for the transport of R&R equipment, as well as for the refrigerant cylinders. These can be tied into existing distribution systems, e.g. for virgin refrigerants or spare parts.
Decentralised systems, on the other
hand, require a greater number of recycling machines. The costs
of each option have to be taken into account.
Keeping track of the logistics of the refrigerant movements requires an well organised reporting system as an integral part of the logistics system. This reporting system should include appropriate labelling of cylinders, declaration of recovered refrigerant and the completion of forms.
R&R systems will function more
effectively if the general public, the owners and managers of
refrigeration and air-conditioning units, and technicians of
refrigeration service companies, understand why they are
This includes a recognition that
servicing of CFC-based equipment should only be done by fully
equipped and trained service personnel.
A range of information and public awareness tools are available: leaflets, posters, articles in newsletters, radio interviews, TV announcements, interventions at public schools and training institutes, and so on. These campaigns should be well co-ordinated with other awareness programmes within the Country Programme and the RMP.
Adopt quality procedures for recycled refrigerants
operation of refrigeration equipment depends, amongst other
factors, on the purity of the refrigerant. When charging
recycled CFCs into a refrigeration system it is therefore
important to ensure that the refrigerant meets the prescribed
quality requirements of the equipment manufacturer
A full chemical analysis of recycled refrigerant requires sophisticated laboratory equipment such as a gas chromatograph, and will in general not be available for routine quality control. There are, however, other reliable and cost-efficient means for quality control, including:
Using only certified R&R equipment
Adopt a strategy for the disposal of non-recyclable refrigerants
Experience shows that about 10-20% of recovered refrigerants cannot be recycled. This includes:
In some countries, non-recyclable
refrigerant can be returned through the chain of wholesalers to
the refrigerant manufacturers responsible for disposal.
In other cases, this is not
possible, but venting of contaminated or mixed refrigerant is
bad practice and must be avoided countries may ban the
intentional venting. An economically feasible strategy for
dealing with nonrecyclable refrigerant should therefore be
adopted as part of the R&R system.
There are two main options:
Destruction technologies, such as rotary kiln incinerators, liquid injection incinerators, cement kilns, reactor cracking or gaseous/fume oxidation are currently limited to a few developed countries and are very cost-intensive. They are, in general, not yet available to LVC countries.
Until appropriate destruction
capacity is available to LVC countries, an intermediate
containment strategy could be adopted such as long-term
storage until final destruction or shipping to established
The immediate storage cost will be less than the destruction cost. The long-term cost for storage and destruction, however, may be higher if no alternative and cheaper technologies can be established, such as chemical neutralization of the refrigerant.
Manage financial and
Careful monitoring and control of
the use of the R&R equipment, and the budget for the R&R system,
To help ensure that service
companies feel responsible for using the R&R equipment in a
proper way, the equipment could be sold, or rented at a
subsidised price. Prices should be balanced against the
companys benefit from using the equipment.
It is important that service
companies follow instructions on reporting, so that the amount
of recycled CFC can be monitored and experience on recycling
activities evaluated and disseminated to other users, as well as
to the Ozone Secretariat and the Executive Committee of the
Operating R&R systems requires the
proper management of the recovery stations, recycling centers
and transport logistics. Data on the performance of the R&R
system needs to be collected to perform the necessary reporting
and monitoring functions. The next section deals with monitoring
All relevant individuals and
stakeholders should be made aware of how the different aspects
of the R&R system are managed and what their specific
responsibilities are - e.g. concerning the collection of data
This is especially important in
centralized systems, where many companies have to co-operate.
Centralized and decentralized R&R system
Lessons learned for recent R&R programmes show that some difficulties may occur during the operation of both centralized and decentralized R&R systems (see Chapter 5). Corrective measures should be taken as soon as possible where the following conditions apply:
Price levels of refrigerants
Selection of companies
Life time of R&R systems
Profitability for service
Collecting recovered refrigerants
Exchanging recovered and recycled refrigerants
In order to ensure the efficient
functioning of the R&R system, the main performance indicators
should be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis and
corrective measures taken if necessary. These indicators are
identical with the criteria used for the feasibility studies in
A local consultant should perform
this task, in consultation with the NOU and in close
co-operation with participating service workshops and recycling
centers. Clear procedures need be established for the transfer
of data between all involved stakeholders and the following data
necessary for efficient monitoring of the R&R system should be
provided to the NOU:
The collection of reliable data
represents a major problem in most R&R programmes. In
centralized systems, the amounts of refrigerant received and
recycled at the recycling center is usually available. It is
already more difficult to keep track of the refrigerants, which
are recovered and reused in the same appliance, without passing
through the recycling center. This is also the case for
decentralizes R&R systems, where individual service workshops
perform both, recovery and recycling.
Indirect data may become
available once the import of virgin CFC refrigerants is
restricted, through the rate of retrofitting. The establishment
of trade registers at importer/wholesaler level may also provide
indicators of whether service companies are applying R&R
Base line survey
The first step in establishing an
R&R system is to conduct a baseline survey of the existing
refrigeration sector in order to evaluate the potential for CFC
recovery and recycling and its economic feasibility.
The baseline survey should include the
following activities, which are described in this chapter:
Data to be collected
The following data needs to be
collected to acquire an overview of the refrigeration and
air-conditioning sector in the country:
The starting points for the
collection of data should be the Country Program and the RMP.
Further data could be gathered from importers of refrigerants
and equipment, and their customers wholesalers and service
Existing systems and their charge
Table 1 should be used to collect
information on the number of refrigeration and air- conditioning
units using CFC refrigerants. It also includes columns for data on
the average and total refrigerant charge of the units. If exact data
are not available, the procedures explained in Chapter 6 should be
Table 2 should be used to collect information on the current consumption of CFC refrigerants for maintenance. The precise annual CFC loss in each sub-sector depends on the quality of the maintenance procedures. Within each sub-sector, the different types of CFCs should be specified.
Structure of refrigeration sub-sectors
Table 3 should be used to collect sector specific-data such as the size and type of the refrigeration workshops. Some service workshops may work in more than one sub-sector this has to be taken into account when estimating the total number of companies.
Data to be collected
This data is also needed to
establish a mass balance for the total flow of refrigerants, and
to identify the individual consumers of CFC refrigerants, in the
Data to be collected
Future demand for CFC refrigerants
in the country can be estimated once the following data is
Potential for R & R
Recovery and recycling of CFC refrigerants may be applied during:
Servicing and repair of CFC units
Demand for refrigerants
Demand for CFC refrigerants arise
sin the following cases:
Table 4 should be used to estimate the
future demand for virgin CFC refrigerants.
Table 5 can be used to estimate the potential amount of CFC refrigerant available for recovery and recycling. The average refrigerant charge for each sub-sector or equipment category has to be estimated.
The type and amount of CFCs used in
domestic refrigerators differs from model to model, depending on
the size and capacity of the refrigeration system. Refrigerators
usually contain 0.10.25 kg of refrigerant.
Experience from France shows that
more than 90% of the initial charge of yet unopened
refrigerators can be recovered. However, Danish experience in
the recovery of CFC refrigerant from old refrigerators
brought to central recycling centers shows that they tend to
contain only about 30% of the initial charge the remainder is
lost mainly through leaks caused during transport to the center.
When end-of-life refrigerators are
disposed of in LVC countries, most of the refrigerant tends to
be lost through leakage, or is effectively non-recyclable
because of compressor burnout. LVC countries experience higher
rates of compressor burnout because of their hot climates and
unstable electrical supplies.
Several kinds of refrigeration
equipment are used in the commercial sector, including
hermetically sealed compressor units for individual display
cases, and semi-hermetic and open compressors for centralized
refrigeration of a series of display cases and cold rooms.
Hermetically sealed compressor
cabinets contain a few kilograms of CFC-12 refrigerant, whereas
centralised systems contain between 515 kg of refrigerant,
depending on the size and number of cabinets connected to the
Recommended charge ratios of
refrigerant for commercial refrigeration are approximately 1.5
kg/kWref for evaporation temperatures between 15 and 0 oC,
and 4 kg/kWref for temperatures between 40 and 35 oC.
When a system is opened for servicing its refrigerant content may range from zero to a full charge.
Usually, the actual charge will be
less than the initial charge because of system leakage which
is the most common cause for the servicing. Refrigerant loss
noticeably reduces the cooling performance of the equipment, and
the owners usually react quickly to service the appliance. Most
of the remaining refrigerant can therefore be recovered.
Large commercial and industrial units
This sub-sector is very diversified,
including refrigeration and air-conditioning units as well as
chillers. The refrigerant type and charge varies accordingly.
Some units use CFC-12, HCFC-22 or
R-502, while others, such as chillers, use CFC-11. The
refrigerant content varies from several hundred kilograms to
over 1 tonne, with an average of about 400 kg.
For chillers, the recommended charge
ratio is between 0.250.4 kg/kWref, while that for special
refrigeration plants may be as high as 8 kg/kWref.
Mobile air-conditioning (MAC)
Until recently, CFC-12 was used in cars and some other vehicles. The initial refrigerant charge in cars was 0.651.5 kg of CFC-12. North American cars contained more than 1 kg of CFC-12, though European and Japanese cars contained less. Although almost all car manufacturers have now switched to HFC-134a as the refrigerant, many older cars still require servicing with CFC-12, which makes recycling relevant.
The average initial charge for buses
and trains is several kilograms of refrigerant.
This chapter describes the technical
components of the different types of R&R systems for CFC
refrigerants. There are two basic designs, decentralized and
centralized systems. In certain cases, a combination of both
types a semi-centralized system may be appropriate,
depending on the structure of the existing refrigeration
Design and logistics
In decentralized R&R systems, the participating service workshops are equipped with both, recovery and recycling units. R&R is either performed locally at the customer's premises, using mobile R&R equipment, or at the service workshop. The recycled refrigerant is usually used to recharge the same refrigeration unit from which it was recovered. The recycling process is controlled by the local workshop (Figure 2).
Conditions for successful operation
The operation of decentralized R&R
systems has significant advantages compared with centralized
systems because the recycled refrigerant can directly be reused
by the service workshop. Thus the transport logistics are
reduced and no co-ordination with other service workshops is
Design and logistics
In centralized R&R systems, the
participating service workshops are equipped with recovery
machines only, and the recovered refrigerant is recycled in a
recycling center. In some cases, the recycling center can also
be equipped with a reclaim station. The recycling center
controls the recycling process
The recycling center can return the
recycled refrigerant to the workshop, which provided it and
charge a recycling fee, where the workshop is able to reuse the
recycled refrigerant. Alternatively, the recycling center can
function as a refrigerant bank, buying recovered and selling
Conditions for successful operation
However, experience shows that the
successful operation of centralized R&R systems is more
difficult because of the increased logistics between the service
workshops and the recycling center, because of the smaller R&R
potential in the domestic sector and because of the increased
need for coordination between workshops and recycling centers.
The successful operation of centralized R&R systems requires
Lessons learned: close monitoring
Lessons learned from recent R&R
programmes show that the operation of centralised R&R system may
fail if some of the above aspects are not properly taken into
account. Therefore it is important to closely monitor the
operational phase of the system and to introduce corrective
measures if necessary. Further aspects, which should be taken
into account, were already discussed in Chapter 3.
Conditions for successful operation
Fig. 2 : Three different ways to
organize a CFC Refrigerant R&R System
The type and quantity of R&R equipment
necessary to operate R&R systems depends on the design and size of
the system and the type of refrigeration equipment to be serviced.
Typically, R&R systems require the
following types of equipment:
Recovery machines are used to
recover refrigerant from refrigeration or air-conditioning
systems to be serviced or decommissioned. The recovered
refrigerant is pumped into a cylinder for storage.
Recovery does not necessarily
include filtering. However, liquid refrigerant is often
recovered through a buffer cylinder, which is placed before the
recovery machine. This cylinder functions as an oil separator
that traps particles and acid.
Some recovery machines are, or can
be, equipped with a filter to protect the compressor, as well as
additional filter modules for moisture, particles, etc., in
order to fulfil the basic recycling function. Such upgraded
recovery machines may improve the quality of the recovered
refrigerant before recharging to the same refrigeration system.
However, they are not certified, and the refrigerant quality
cannot be guaranteed.
Recovery machines are usually
portable, their weight is approximately 20 kg and their price
may range from US$ 5001500, depending on the type and the
number of machines purchased.
Recycling machines clean the
recovered refrigerant to a given standard they are usually
certified. The recycled refrigerant is pumped into a refillable
cylinder. Some recycling machines are also equipped to recharge
the recycled refrigerant back into the serviced refrigeration
The cleaning system usually involves
an evaporation process, and the refrigerant is passed through a
separation chamber, filters and dryers.
Recycling machines weigh about 100
kg and are normally equipped with wheels. Prices range from US$
20005000. Purchasing a recycling machine will avoid costs e.g.
for separate recovery machines, cylinders and charging
The use of refrigerant handling
equipment has increased during the last decade, accompanied by
the intensive development of new and more cost-efficient models.
The characteristics and prices of such equipment should be
Reclaim stations are stationary plants, normally used to upgrade contaminated or mixed refrigerant to international quality standards for virgin refrigerants (ARI 700-93). These standards require strict quality control and access to advanced chemical analysis devices such as a gas chromatograph.
However, recycling machines may also
be able to clean refrigerant, which is not heavily contaminated
to similar quality standards.
The price of a reclaim station
ranges from US$ 25,00050,000. More complex reclaim stations may
cost as much as US$ 150,000. A gas chromatograph may cost up to
US$100,000. Because of the high cost, reclaim stations are not
cost-efficient for LVC countries.
Cylinders are necessary in all types
of R&R systems for the recovery, storage, transport and
redistribution of refrigerant. Only refillable cylinders should
be used, given that disposable cylinders often used for
distribution of virgin refrigerants are not strong enough to
withstand the filling process.
Cylinders are available in different
sizes, 30lb, 50lb, 100lb, 200lb and 1000lb. Smaller workshops
with portable recovery machines normally use 30lb or 50lb
cylinders. For recycling centers, 100lb or 200lb cylinders are
usually adequate. Recovery cylinders should have separate valves
The mixing of different refrigerants should be avoided, as it is not possible to separate mixtures of refrigerants using the equipment described above.
This means that the workshops have
to be equipped with separate cylinders for the different kinds
of recycled refrigerants (CFC-11, CFC-12 and R-502) and rejected
As part of the interim disposal
strategy for contaminated and mixed refrigerants, recent R&R
programmes provided 1000lb cylinders, allowing storage of the
refrigerant until final destruction.
When servicing small refrigeration
units such as refrigerators, a specially designed plastic bag
can be used to recover and to store the refrigerant during
transport from the site to the locations of the recycling
The price for a refrigerant bag is
approximately US$ 20.
Electronic leak detectors indicate
the presence of specific molecules containing chlorine or
fluorine atoms. This should happen before the recovery of the
refrigerant and the repair of the system. Leak detectors cost
between US$ 50300.
Test kit (refrigerant identifier)
This equipment identifies the type
of recovered refrigerant to be recycled and indicates if
refrigerants have been mixed together. Recycling centers,
which receive recovered refrigerants from a variety of
workshops, require the device.
Different types of hand tools and
accessories are needed for recovery and recycling operations,
including hoses, valves, gauge manifolds, micron gauges, hollow
Other pieces of equipment used for
refrigerant recovery and recycling are weighing scales and
filters for the recycling machines.
Local assembly of R&R equipment
Some refrigeration service workshops are already equipped with basic tools for handling refrigerants, such as vacuum pumps, refrigerant cylinders, weighing scales and hand tools. The cost for of R&R machines may be significantly reduced through local assembly.
Such locally assembled equipment may
upgrade the quality of the recovered refrigerant.
However, unless the R&R equipment is
tested and certified, there is no guarantee that the recycled
refrigerant complies with established quality standards.
Therefore, the recycled refrigerant should only be used to
recharge the same appliance from which it was recovered.
UNEP DTIE (1999): United Nations Environment Programme's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics