Refrigerant Removal and the Scrapping Process

car air conditioning vent

Refrigerant Removal and the Scrapping Process

The Clean Air Act (CAA) establishes rules for the manufacturing, handling, and recycling of products containing ozone-depleting substances (ODS). Scrap metal yards recycle items that contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) which are used as refrigerants in many products that can be turned into scrap metal. While it is illegal to vent or release refrigerant into the environment, it is not impossible to remove, and the process will save you money when taking an appliance to a scrap metal yard.

Where Refrigerant is Found
Refrigerant and/or insulating foam is found in domestic refrigeration equipment (fridges, freezers, water coolers), refrigerated semi-trailers, retail refrigeration such as cold storage warehouses, retail food systems, and ice makers. Additionally, motor vehicle air conditioners, general home use air conditioners, and home appliances contain these CFCs and are often brought in for recycling.

Harmful Nature of CFCs and ODSs
The Clean Air Act established the initiative to phase out HCFC-22, the most common refrigerant. CFCs and other ODSs have been used as refrigerants, insulating foams, and solvents. They are intrinsically heavier than air when released, but the ODSs eventually rise into the stratosphere. The CFC atoms react with the ozone and cause the destruction of ozone molecules, leading to a depleted ozone layer. The ozone layer protects us from harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun. The United States and other nations are working to phase out ODS production and use to protect our ozone layer from depletion. The Clean Air Act restricts the manufacturing, reclaiming, venting and use of ODSs.

Venting Refrigerant
Only a certified technician should be doing to the repair and recycling of any item known to contain CFCs. Knowingly venting CFCs into the environment is illegal. There are a few exceptions here, such as a smaller amount of refrigerant escaping during a leak or repair, and a few substitute refrigerants such as ammonia in commercial refrigeration, propane in vending machines, low temp refrigeration equipment, and retail food refrigerators.

Removing Refrigerant
Although the laws are strict regarding refrigerant removal, it can be done by a certified technician or by individuals removing refrigerant from small appliances. If an appliance comes into a scrap metal facility without refrigerant, it will save money and time to process the scrap. Technicians are required to possess an Environmental Protection Agency certification for the disposal of refrigerant, and documentation is required for persons disposing of appliances and equipment that are being disposed and this documentation must be kept with the business or individual for three years. Several videos and articles online can walk you through the process. Detailed information from the EPA outlining construction and demolition of refrigeration and air-condition equipment can be found HERE. At Roane Metals, we have a Freon Pump to remove the refrigerant out of the scrapped parts. We put the freon into the tanks and then take them to be properly emptied once they are full.

Roane Metals Group
Roane Metals Group recycles air conditioners and home appliances, even if they contain refrigerant.  We remove the CFCs and ODSs from products that contain them and carefully process and recycle your appliance. To set up an appointment to recycle air-conditioning equipment, you can visit our website or call us at 865-354-4282.