Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pumps: ODS controls

ODS controls in air conditioning, heat pumps and stationary refrigeration

New guidance from GOV.UK:
Fluorinated gases and ozone-depleting substances: how to do business from 1 January 2021


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

IMPORTANT - Action needed by 31st December 2020 for individuals that possess UK certificates for work with F-gases or ozone depleting substances in products/equipment and that work in the Republic of Ireland’s jurisdiction: apply for certificate valid within the EU, through individual certificates exchange scheme. See
Certificates for working with ODS in the European Union after the end of the Brexit transition period 


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

Institute of Refrigeration: Real Zero Booklets and Real Skills e-learning for minimising leaks from refrigeration systems


In this guideline

What are ozone-depleting substances?

Stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pumps: ODS controls

Fire protection equipment

Solvent cleaning

Specialist uses of ODS

How ODS regulations are enforced

Certificates for working with ODS in the European Union after the end of the Brexit transition period

ODS Legislation

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