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Fears of bottleneck as firms fail to act to replace HCFCs

Businesses are aware of the imminent changes to rules on the use of hydrochloro-fluorocarbons (HCFCs) such as R22 but are failing to respond, a survey has found.

The Research International survey, sponsored by refrigerant manufacturer DuPont, interviewed representatives from 107 companies across 10 European countries.

Ninety per cent of companies polled were aware of the changes to legislation but 65 per cent still had installations using HCFCs, although a large proportion said they plan to take action.

A spokesman for DuPont said: “DuPont has been leading the way in raising awareness of this
issue, which to an extent has been successful. But the problem is that companies need to follow this up with action, and soon.

“Ignoring the impending deadlines risks creating shortages of HCFCs as well as
capacity problems for contractors and engineers if everyone waits until the last minute.

“Incurring administrative penalties is a further risk, but the aforementioned problems are more immediate and are of greater concern to businesses.”

Ozone-depleting HCFCs have been banned from new systems since 2000. Their use as ‘top-up’ fluids for the maintenance of existing systems will be halted by January 2010, although the use of recycled sources will be allowed until 2015.

Karen Leader, chairwoman of the Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association’s specialist Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Group, said the survey matched members’ experiences: “Big companies, which need to be 100 per cent sure they are not left in the lurch, have been taking steps.

“But some companies spent an awful lot of money ten years ago on systems which use R22 before it was recognised that they could not carry on. These companies are holding on until the last minute.

“We predict there will be a bottleneck, but there will be good opportunities for contractors if they can put the resources in place to respond when required.”