Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Ozone depleting substances (ODS)

Ozone-depleting substances (ODS) are gases which damage the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere.

They have been largely phased out throughout Europe, but can still be found in older equipment. There are also a few exceptions for certain uses.

Common uses for ODS included refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, aerosols, solvents, foam blowing agents, firefighting fluids and high voltage switchgear.

Additional resources

       

Video Case Study: How to Reduce Carbon Emissions From Your Business

 

Ozone-depleting substances (ODS) are chemicals that, if allowed to escape, damage the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere. Some ODS also have a global warming potential so they contribute to climate change. F-gases are often used as a replacement for ODS. Most ODS are now banned. ODS include:

  • chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • carbon tetrachloride (used to make CFCs)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • halons
  • methyl chloroform and methyl bromide.

You can only produce and market ODS as a feedstock for producing non-ODS substances (eg Teflon) and for laboratory and analytical work. You must clearly label feedstock ODS and indicate that it can only be used for that purpose.

Some equipment still in use may contain banned or controlled ODS, and may also be traded illegally. You should be aware of which are banned, where you might find them and what to do if you discover them.

Former uses ODS

ODS have previously been used in a number of ways:

  • Stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump (RAC) equipment
  • Some stationary fire protection systems and portable fire extinguishers
  • Air-conditioned and refrigerated transport
  • Solvents containing ODS.
  • The production of magnesium, different types of foam and high voltage switchgear.

Further information

SEPA: ODS information

EUROPA: Protection of the ozone layer

Ozone-depleting substances (ODS) were once widely used in the manufacture of refrigeration and air conditioning systems. The substances most commonly used were:

  • chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • hydrochlorofluorcarbons (HCFCs), including HCFC blends
  • halons.

In some cases, refrigeration equipment also used insulating foam that contained ODS.

What you must do

The supply and use of CFCs and halons in refrigeration equipment is banned throughout the European Union (EU). This means that you can't use them in the manufacture of new equipment or to maintain existing equipment. If you have equipment designed to use CFCs, you should have stopped using this type of refrigerant by either retro-filling existing systems with an alternative or replacing old equipment.

Virgin HCFCs can't be used in any new refrigeration equipment. The use of recovered or reclaimed HCFCs to top up or service equipment is banned from 1 January 2015.

If you manufacture or maintain refrigeration equipment you must make sure you don't use banned ODS. You should always try to use alternatives to CFCs and HCFCs, such as hydrofluorocarbons.

If you own or operate stationary refrigeration or air conditioning equipment you must:

  • use only permitted refrigerants in servicing – CFCs, Halons and HCFCs can no longer be used for servicing equipment
  • make efforts to prevent, minimise and repair any refrigerant leaks
  • make sure ODS are recovered when servicing, maintaining and decommissioning equipment
  • allow only qualified technicians to maintain and decommission equipment
  • transport ODS in refillable containers
  • label containers as reclaimed ODS, with the batch number and source of the ODS.

Test for leaks

You must test for leaks regularly - how often you are required to check (using certified personnel) depends on the type of system and the quantity of ODS.

Leak testing frequencies

Frequency Normal systems Systems labelled as hermetically sealed
None Less than 3 kilograms Less than 6 kilograms
Annual 3 kilograms to 29 kilograms 6 kilograms to 29 kilograms
Six-monthly 30 kilograms to 299 kilograms 30 kilograms to 299 kilograms
Quarterly 300 kilograms or more 300 kilograms or more

The system must be checked within a month after a leak has been repaired to ensure that the repair has been effective.

Hold qualifications to work with ODS

You must hold a minimum qualification to carry out specific tasks on certain types of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment if it contains ODS.

Northern Ireland: List of qualifications in Schedule 1 of the regulations

Scotland: List of qualifications in Schedule 1 of the regulations

Dispose of refrigeration equipment containing ODS safely

If you dispose of equipment containing ODS you must comply with the duty of care for waste and use a specialist fridge disposal business.

Find your nearest waste site

Alternatively, local traders or charities may accept refrigeration equipment that is in good working order. Check your local telephone directory for details. Refrigeration units may be refurbished for sale anywhere within the EU.

Local councils do not have to accept waste refrigeration equipment from businesses, but they may be able to offer advice.

Find your local council

Further information

GOV.UK: Controlling Ozone-depleting substances and Fluorinated gases

Real Zero: Minimising leaks from refrigeration systems

Ozone-depleting substances (ODS) were once used widely in firefighting equipment. Halons were used to fill equipment like hand-held fire extinguishers and built-in total flooding systems.

The use of halons in firefighting equipment is now banned, except for military and aviation uses.

What you must do

ODS obligations

If you discover any old firefighting equipment filled with halons or other ODS you must decommission it and dispose of the equipment safely as hazardous waste. Fire extinguishers should be labelled on the outside with what they are filled with.

To decommission fire protection systems and fire extinguishers, you must use a technician who holds the following qualification:

 Fire Industry Competence Certificate Course, Class 1.

You must dispose of the equipment as hazardous/special waste at a licensed facility.

Hazardous/special waste

Find your nearest waste site

Further information

Fire safety advice centre: Alternatives to Halons

Solvent users need to comply with certain ozone-depleting substance (ODS) obligations.

What you must do

ODS obligations

The use of solvents containing ODS is banned for any solvent cleaning activities, eg of electronic circuit boards, high precision metal components (used in sectors like aerospace) and optical components.

This includes

  •         hydrochlorofluorocarbons
  •         chlorofluorocarbons
  •         1-,1,1-trichloroethane
  •         chlorobromomethane
  •         carbon tetrachloride.

If you discover any ozone-depleting solvents you must dispose of them safely as hazardous waste.

Hazardous/special waste

Some specialist manufacturing activities used to use ozone-depleting substances (ODS). Most uses are now banned or severely restricted

What you must do

The use of ODS is banned in the manufacture of:

  • Metered dose inhalers (MDIs) and electronics
  • Aerosols and One Component Foam (OCF)
  • Insulation foam.

Fumigation

The use of methyl bromide is banned as a plant protection fumigant. It was used mainly for soil sterilisation and to fumigate food storage areas. It has been completely banned in the EU since 2009.

Several organisations enforce the ozone-depleting substance (ODS) regulations. If you do not comply you can be fined.

In Northern Ireland legislation on ODS is enforced as follows

Regulating organisation Type of equipment/machinery
Local councils or the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) in particular cases Commercial and retail businesses/Industrial sites not covered by the NIEA, i.e. not part A installations
NIEA Part A installations. Offshore installations used for the generation of energy from water or wind.
Department of Energy and Climate Change Offshore installations other than those used for the generation of energy from water and wind.

 

The Secretary of State (in practice, usually the GB Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)) must enforce these Regulations in relation to offshore installations.

In Scotland legislation on ODS is enforced as follows

Regulating organisation Type of equipment/machinery
Local councils Commercial and retail businesses/
Industrial sites not covered by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
SEPA Industrial facilities with pollution prevention and control permits
The Scottish ministers Offshore oil, gas, water and wind installations

 

Regulating organisations can ensure compliance with ODS legislation by serving information notices, enforcement notices or prohibition notices. Failure to comply with a notice can result in a fine.

Information notices

These may be issued to people by regulators in order to obtain further information within set deadlines.

Enforcement notices

Regulators issue enforcement notices if they suspect that businesses are in breach of the regulations. They include a description of the problem, how it can be solved and the date by which it must be fixed.

Prohibition notices

In Scotland Regulators can serve prohibition notices if they believe specific requirements of the regulations have been or are in danger of being breached, leading to an imminent danger of serious pollution.

Prohibition notices include a description of the problem, how it can be solved and the date by which it must be fixed. They may require you to take action immediately. Prohibition notices can include an order to close down a piece of equipment or a whole site. They will explain the damage that pollution is causing.

(NB Provision for prohibition notices in NI were revoked by the 2012 amending Regulations)

Northern Ireland ODS legislation

EC regulation on ozone-depleting substances 1005/2009. Allows governments to impose new requirements on handling, use, import, export, recovery, recycling, reclaiming, destruction and trading of listed substances. Sets out plans to phase out production, trade and use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons.

EC Regulation 744/2010 amending EC Regulation 1005/2009 on ozone-depleting substances. Bans the use of halons in firefighting equipment except for military and aviation uses.

Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations SI 2011/1543. Replaces the Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2002 (as amended), and enforces the provisions of EC Regulation 1005/2009.

Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2011/239. Implement EC Regulation N0 1005/2009 on substances that deplete the ozone layer and provide that any breach of the EU Regulation is a punishable offence.

Ozone Depleting Substances (Qualifications) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2011/240. Implements provisions in EC Regulation NO 1005/2009 on substances that deplete the ozone layer by specifying the minimum training and qualifications required by anyone working with ozone-depleting substances, such as refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment and fire protection systems

Scotland ODS legislation

EC regulation on ozone-depleting substances 1005/2009. Allows governments to impose new requirements on handling, use, import, export, recovery, recycling, reclaiming, destruction and trading of listed substances. Sets out plans to phase out production, trade and use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons.

EC Regulation 744/2010 amending EC Regulation 1005/2009 on ozone-depleting substances. Bans the use of halons in firefighting equipment except for military and aviation uses.

The Ozone-Depleting Substances Regulations 2015 SI 168 Replace and consolidate The Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2011(S.I. 2011/1543) and the Ozone-Depleting Substances (Qualifications) Regulations 2009 (S.I.2009/216). The regulations relate to the production, import, placing on the market of ozone depleting substances and the minimum qualifications for those working on recovery, recycling, reclamation or destruction of ODS.

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