In the summer of 2015, EPA rolled out a list of new rules relating to HCFC refrigerants that were found to contribute to climate change. Their high global warming potential, or GWP, resulted in EPA deciding to phase them out over time in exchange for more eco-friendly alternatives. These rules have left many in the foodservice industry concerned about how the ban might affect their existing and future commercial refrigerators. Before you panic about how the rule implementation may affect your business, we’re here to clear up confusion and dispel the myths about what you need to do before the new EPA rules take effect.
Myth: EPA’s Rules Came Out of Nowhere
EPA has been researching the environmental impact of different refrigerants for over 20 years, searching for alternatives that are more eco-friendly. In the past, their research targeted commercial refrigerants that posed threats to the ozone layer, consumer safety, local air quality, potential toxicity, and more. Leaking refrigerant escapes into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas, and some are actually more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.
Myth: You Should Buy New Equipment Immediately
If EPA’s new rules have you in a budget crisis, take a deep breath; you’ve got some time. The prohibited HCFC refrigerants will be phased out over the next four years, impacting large-scale supermarket systems, remote condensing units, vending machines, freezers, and coolers. This means that you don’t have to immediately replace existing equipment, but you will have to adhere to EPA regulations in the event that you retrofit or replace your unit at the end of its lifetime. If you’re going through retrofits or developing a new space, now is the time to take proactive measures when it comes to your refrigeration system.
Myth: Switching to Natural Refrigerants Will Be Expensive
As with all new equipment, it’s important to consider the life-cycle cost in addition to the upfront price tag. Often, natural refrigerants are on par with the cost of chemical refrigerants, and are sometimes even less expensive. When you factor in energy impacts and potential rebate programs, they become even more affordable.
Myth: Manufacturers Aren’t Addressing the Refrigerant Issue
Many manufacturers, including Imbera Foodservice, are already hard at work developing and testing EPA-approved refrigerant alternative in their product lines. Our products meet all EPA and DOE requirements, including the ones going into effect in 2018. Imbera’s state-of-the-art commercial refrigerators are environmentally friendly, using a CO2 natural refrigerant gas that protects the environment while reducing energy consumption. With EPA’s rule changes going into effect next year, there’s never been a better time to start thinking about updating your commercial refrigeration system. Contact us today to learn more about how to get your foodservice operation ready for EPA’s new refrigeration rules.