January 1, 2010 saw the first day of enactment of the final rules regarding HCFC-22 equipment installation and servicing. (See Dec. 28, 2009 issue of The NEWS, for the complete story.) No huge surprises resulted, but after almost a full year of uncertainty, it is nice to know that the sky will not actually fall in the New Year.

In a nutshell: No inventory problems for equipment or components; contractors can set R-22 systems for up to two years in new construction installations that are grandfathered if a building permit was in place before 2010; and servicing of existing R-22 systems will remain uninterrupted.

The only urgency evidenced by the Environmental Protection Agency was regarding the allocation of R-22. Manufacturers can produce 110 million pounds of virgin R-22 during 2010, followed by greater reductions each year through 2014.

What this means to Joe Contractor is that the government is serious about moving the industry toward more use of reclaimed refrigerant.

There are not many things about this industry that I don’t admire. Great people, honest work - important work that impacts the health and lives of million of people throughout the world. However, the fact that the industry only recycles less than 5 percent of the HCFCs that could potentially be reused in the United States is troubling.

Aside from getting through a weak economy, refrigerant recycling may be the next big hurdle.