Reduce / Reuse / Recycle

January 29, 2003


Fluorocarbons in Fridge Insulation To Be Recovered and Destroyed

Keywords: Chemicals Government Policy / Systems Reduce / Reuse / Recycle 

Japan's Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry decided on November 11, 2002 to strengthen recovery measures for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other fluorocarbons in the recycling process of home electric appliances, following the full entry into force of the Law Concerning the Recovery and Destruction of Fluorocarbons in October 2002.

The recycling of television sets, refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines is regulated by the Law for Recycling of Specified Kinds of Home Appliances. Since this law came into force on April 1, 2001, recycling efforts have been proceeding well in general.

The recycling law now requires manufacturers to recover refrigerant as well as to recycle or destroy the fluorocarbons from household air conditioners and refrigerators. On the other hand, fluorocarbon recovery from insulation foams in refrigerators was not made mandatory due to technical reasons at that time the law originally entered into force.

As advanced equipment, facilities, and technologies for recycling were introduced by industry since the law originally entered into force, the ministries decided to require manufacturers to recover and destroy CFCs and CFC-substitute from the insulation foam of household refrigerators.

CFCs have not been used in insulation foam since the late 1990s, and CFC-substitutes (including HCFCs) are now also being replaced by hydrocarbons (such as cyclopentane).

Japan's domestic sales of household refrigerators accounted for approximately 4.89 million units in 2001, and the average replacement cycle is about 11 years. In fiscal 2001, nearly 90 percent of the discarded refrigerators contained CFCs in insulation foam, but these types are expected to almost disappear by fiscal 2009. Refrigerators containing HCFCs are expected to increase from less than 10 percent of discarded refrigerators in 2001 to between 30 and 40 percent from 2004 to 2009.

By 2000, the estimated residual fluorocarbons in the insulation foam of household refrigerators totaled 18,000 tonnes. A new amendmentt of the enforcement ordinance will require the recovery and destruction of those fluorocarbons.

In addition, household freezers, which were not clearly targeted in the Home Appliances Recycling Law, will be added to the list. With domestic sales of about 450,000 in 2001, these appliances have a market size that is less than 10 percent that of household refrigerators. Although the numbers of discarded freezers are considerably less than refrigerators, both will soon be subject to the law, a change that will help reduce consumer confusion about how to discard them.

Posted: 2003/01/29 09:07:21 AM
Japanese version