Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Report on meeting held at DTI Conference Centre[2] Tuesday 21 August 2001



  It was confirmed by DEFRA that EC Regulation 2037/2000 became law within the UK in October 2000 and that the regulation demanded the recovery of all Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS), which included CFC and HCFC blowing agents within the foam insulation, from Domestic Refrigeration Waste, as from 31 December 2001.

  DEFRA were asked if it would be possible to defer the start date for the recovery of ODS from Domestic Refrigeration Waste. It was explained that this piece of Legislation was not a Directive but a Regulation, which meant that it was directly applicable to UK law, as written, and that it was impossible to alter any aspects of the regulation, including the date of 31 December 2001 for the recovery of ODS from Domestic Refrigeration Waste.


  DEFRA confirmed that after 31 December 2001 it would be illegal to dispose of waste domestic refrigeration in a manner that would allow CFC or HCFC refrigerants and/or blowing agents to vent into the atmosphere.

  DEFRA confirmed that the landfilling or conventional fragmentising of domestic refrigeration waste would be illegal after 31 December 2001 and anyone found disposing of domestic refrigeration waste in this manner could be liable for prosecution.

  It was agreed that suitable methods of destruction would include:

    —  Processing via the development of EA approved refrigeration recycling plants.

    —  High Temperature Incineration of the complete carcass.

    —  Export for destruction within the EU, subject to available capacity.

    —  Reuse and/or Export of HCFC units for refurbishment, if suitable (CFC contaminated units could not be reused and must be destroyed).

  Failure to comply would cause Infraction Proceedings being levied against the UK by the EC, an option which DEFRA confirmed was not one the UK government was prepared to take.


Current Capacity

  It was understood that there were three High Temperature Incineration plants within the UK and that the cost of disposing of domestic refrigeration in this manner was not really an option, due to lack of capacity and excessive costs, in addition to the waste of recyclable resources destroyed within the process.

  This being the case, it was understood that there was zero capacity within the UK to comply with the regulation.

  The Export for destruction was discussed, but it was felt that there was not sufficient capacity anywhere in the EU, with the possible exception of Germany, that could satisfy this option. It was also felt that any spare capacity within Germany would be utilised by closer neighbouring countries.

  Whilst the Export of HCFC units outside the EU was still allowed under the regulation, this would only be acceptable to supply essential and critical needs only, and could not be used as an option for the disposal of non refurbishable units.

Future Needs

  It was estimated that it would take a minimum period of about 10 months to develop approved Refrigeration Recycling Plants throughout the UK.

  All equipment not reused, exported or incinerated, would have to be Staked and Racked until approved Refrigeration Recycling Plants have been established.

  Investment by Industry in the Refrigeration Recycling Plants would be made available subject to DEFRA confirmation regarding:

    —  Who will pay?

    —  What standard would be set for the recovery of ODS?

    —  How will enforcement be implemented?


  The EA confirmed that anyone handling waste domestic refrigeration after 31 December 2001 would require a Waste Management Licence. This requirement would include those undertaking the collection and storage through retailer return schemes, although DEFRA indicated that it may be possible to obtain an Waste Management Licence Exemption Certificate in some cases.

  It was discussed whether IPPC permits would be required and the EA indicated that each application would be assessed according to its merit, and that some time in the future IPPC controls may be put in place, if necessary.

Hazardous Waste List

  As from 31 December 2001 waste domestic refrigeration will be classified as a Hazardous Waste.

  It was felt that the current method of reclaiming the refrigerants "on location" would no longer be allowed. This was because when reclaiming refrigerant gases it was necessary to `open up the refrigeration circuit' causing contaminated ODS/Oil Mixtures to be released into the environment.

2   Prepared by DARP Environmental Ltd. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 25 April 2002