The #1 action for global climate impact is to stop leaks of refrigerants in the operating and recycling of appliances: refrigerators, air conditioners, heat pumps and some hot water heaters, chillers and industrial processes. In homes and businesses, these technologies make people comfortable, and in some cases (such as data centers), they are critical to business operations.
In 2015, refrigerants and similar chemicals represented 5% of New York State’s greenhouse gas emissions. An estimated 90% of refrigerant leakage actually takes place at the point of disposal or recycling of appliances, an area where our research points to several systems failures. For example, you can get a rebate from your electric utility for recycling a working refrigerator, but not a broken one. It usually costs you money to take that fridge or air conditioner to a recycling center – where they may or may not know how to dispose of the refrigerants properly. While the biggest challenges of refrigerant management are in hotter climates and denser population centers, we all need to step up and learn how to reduce this impact.
New Yorkers for Cool Refrigerant Management is an education and advocacy program of SHV that encourages strengthened state and local policies. We have developed an extensive network of expert advocates and educators who track policy and technology on this complex topic. While New York is implementing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, we believe there is considerable room for strengthening the state’s policies to manage refrigerant emissions through the life cycle of appliances and equipment, and make sure that technicians who handle refrigerants are well trained and accountable.
We have designed a pilot program to educate a community and collect old refrigerators and air conditioners free of charge. We hope to make this available to communities everywhere.