Restrictions and bans concerning F-gases

© Riku Lumiaro

The EU F-gas Regulation applies to fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) and mixtures containing them. Most commonly these gases are used as heat transfer and refrigerants in refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump installations. Other applications include aersols, foam expansion and solvent applications. Commonly used F-gases are for example R-134a, R-404A and R410A but there is a large variety of alloys.

The aim of the Regulation is to reduce the emissions of F-gases by reducing equipment leaks through maintenance inspection and qualification requirements and by encouraging the transition to refrigerants with low global warming potential, eg. through the quota system. The use of F-gases is restricted in certain new equipment for which substitutes are available. In addition, disposable bottles have been banned since 2007.

Phase down of F-gases

The F-gas Regulation is a key instrument in reducing the placing on the market of HFCs (substances in group 1 of Annex I). By 2030, HFCs (calculated in t CO2 eq.) will gradually decrease to 21% of their levels in the EU in 2009-2012. The quotas take into account the global warming potential (GWP) of the various HFCs in relation to carbon dioxide. The amount of HFCs in kg thus depends on their heating effect- the lower the GWP of the HFCs, the more they can be manufactured or imported in kilograms. The reduction will be achieved by gradually allocating a decreasing number of quotas to companies manufacturing and importing F-gases into EU. 

 The fig. shows the quota of HFCs to be placed on the market between 2015 and 2030 as a percentage of the 2009-2012 level (F-gas Regulation, Annex V).
The fig. shows the quota of HFCs to be placed on the market between 2015 and 2030 as a percentage of the 2009-2012 level (F-gas Regulation, Annex V).

Restrictions and prohibitions

Prohibitions and restrictions on the use of F-gases in certain new products and equipment are one means of achieving the objectives of the Regulation. Restrictions concern the use of F-gases in new products and equipment for which lower GWP options are already available. Restrictions come into force gradually and some will have special transition periods. These bans apply to new equipment and do not effect the existing ones or military equipment.

When planning the purchase of a new appliance, it is important to take into account the maintenance ban on high GWP gases (GWP 2500 or more), as well as the decline in the general availability of F-gases. Professionals in the field will insist in finding alternatives.

Below are the marketing bans under the F-gas Regulation and their effective dates. The placing on the market of disposable bottles has been banned since 2007 and there must be arrangements for the bottles to be returned. Also the placing on the market of technical aerosols that contain HFCs with GWP of 150 or more has been banned since beginning of 2018 (except when required to meet the national safety standards or when used for medical applications).

More information on other prohibitations already in force in Annex III of the F-gas Regulation.

Refrigerators and freezers for commercial use (hermetically sealed equipment) That contain HFCs with GWP of 2500 or more 1.1.2020
that contain HFCs with GWP of 150 or more 1.1.2022
Stationary refrigeration equipment, that contains HFCs with GWP of 2500 or more, except equipment designed to coll products to below -50 ºC 1.1.2020
At least 40 kW commercially used multipack centralised refrigeration systems with F-gases with a GWP of 150 or more. F-gases with a GWP of less than 1500 may be used in the primary refrigeration circuit of cascade systems 1.1.2022
Movable room air-conditioning equipment (hermatically sealed) that contain HFCs with GWP of 150 or more 1.1.2020
Single split air-conditioning systems containing less than 3 kg of F-gases with GWP of 750 or more 1.1.2025
Foams that contain HFCs with GWP of 150 or more except when required to meet national safety standards Extruded polystyrene (XPS) 1.1.2020
Other foams 1.1.2023

Maintenance ban on F-gases with high GWP

1.1.2020 the use of F-gases with a GWP of 2500 or more in service or maintenance of refrigeration equipment with a charge size of 40 tCO2 eq. or more has being prohibited. The ban does not apply to reclaimed or recycled F-gases or to applications designed to cool products to - 50 ºC. 

The service use of reclaimed or recycled F-gases is permitted until 2030 (F-gas Regulation Article 13). Reclamation means the re-processing the recovered F-gas in order to match the performance of a virgin substance, taken into account its intended use.


Published 2020-01-13 at 12:17, updated 2020-09-01 at 11:25