ATLANTA — In Aspen Refrigerant’s booth, the message to the industry was quite clear: R-22 is readily available and will be legal to use, buy, and sell for years to come.
“Dispelling the R-22 myth is an important part of our messaging at the AHR Expo, and, frankly, for the entire year,” said Jay Kestenbaum, senior vice president, sales and purchasing, Aspen Refrigerants. “With misinformation being widely spread that R-22 will be illegal after Jan. 1, 2020, or that R-22 will no longer be available for purchase, contractors and end users are uncertain about the future use of their R-22 HVAC systems.”
Aspen sales manager, Lori Byres, said that many of the attendees visiting the booth were confused about what the phaseout of R-22 really means.
“All it means is that the virgin production and importation of R-22 will cease after this year,” she said. “But the use of R-22 to service existing equipment remains valid and legal, and the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] does not have any plans for banning its use in those circumstances. Believe it or not, R-12 is still available, because there are no bans on using it to servicing units.”
But in order for there to be a continuing supply of R-22, contractors first need to recover it — which is the law — and take it to a reclaimer for processing.
“Aspen’s ReKlaim program is the key to the long-term availability of R-22, and it’s important for contractors to understand the profitability of recovering R-22 and other refrigerants and selling them to Aspen,” said Kestenbaum.
By visiting one of Aspen’s ReKlaim centers, located in numerous places throughout the U.S., HVACR contractors and technicians can dispose of used and unwanted refrigerants in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. And receive cash for their trouble.
“Many contractors are not reclaiming refrigerant, because they say they don’t have time,” said Kestenbaum. “But reclaiming can be quite profitable. And it’s absolutely necessary for the long-term availability of R-22. The EPA says that the industry needs to reclaim 25 million pounds of R-22 in order for the supply to remain stable. Right now, the industry is at 40 percent of that. The good news is that even with only 40 percent of planned reclamation, there is currently an ample and stable supply with no shortages. We are therefore encouraged that there will be good future availability that can easily be generated through added reclamation per EPA estimates.”
Click flyer to expand
EXPO EDUCATION: Aspen shared this flyer in its booth, which noted that R-22 will be legal to use, buy, and sell for years to come.
Even though reclaimed refrigerant continues to be an area of growth for both contractors and reclaimers such as Aspen, and stocks of reclaimed R-22 are up compared to the previous year, they are nowhere near where they need to be, said Kestenbaum.
“Contractors need to know that it’s not just R-22 that’s valuable,” he said. “CFCs and HFCs all have value, and the use of reclaimed refrigerant is an environmentally responsible choice by contractors and end users.”
With all these various materials being recovered and reclaimed, there is an increasing amount of mixed refrigerants being returned to reclaimers. Unfortunately, Kestenbaum believes that there is no way to fix this problem anymore.
“Contractors’ trucks are only so big, and they can only fit so many canisters,” he said. “So many of them end up mixing what’s been recovered. Then it’s like trying to figure out what kind of milk is in chocolate milk — is it skim? Whole? It’s almost impossible to figure out.”
This year, Aspen will be closely watching regulations, particularly EPA’s proposed changes to Section 608 of its Refrigerant Management Regulations. The company is also very excited about the new refrigerants being introduced by the major U.S. manufacturers, and Kestenbaum notes they look forward to being among the first to have them available for customers.
“As the largest independent distributor of refrigerants in the U.S., we are in a unique position in the industry in that we can supply ‘Any Refrigerant. Any Place. Any Time,’” he said. “We are able to deliver the widest range of refrigerants, in all packaging sizes, and in most cases, overnight. Contractors rely on Aspen as their refrigerant partner to enable them to deal with every situation from emergency orders on the weekend to bulk deliveries for manufacturing plants. We’ve been there for them since 1950.”
Publication date: 2/18/2019