Refrigerants

Some refrigerants that are ozone depleting are prohibited, or being phased out. Read more about refrigerants and alternative refrigerants.

What is a refrigerant?

There are refrigerants in appliances such as air conditioners, heat pumps and all types of different refrigeration systems (domestic fridges, commercial and industrial chillers, cool stores, refrigerated containers, etc). Some refrigerants are also used to manufacture insulation foams for products like water heaters, cool stores and water pipes.

There are many types of refrigerant gases available on the market. Until recently cooling systems often used substances that damage the ozone layer (such as HCFCs, and CFCs). Due to New Zealand's commitment to protect the ozone layer, these are now prohibited for import. There may still be some stores for domestic purchase via wholesalers, either new or recycled/cleaned previously existing gas that has been recovered from plant.

The next phase of refrigerants includes HFCs, which are considered synthetic greenhouse gases, and are currently controlled under the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme via the NZ Emissions Trading Register (NZETR). In the close future, the Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996 is looking to include 18 highly globally warming HFCs, as outlined by the Kigali Amendment under the Montreal Protocol. These 18 HFCs are proposed to be on a phase-down schedule in line with the Protocol, which will result in these HFCs requiring an import permit issued by the EPA. More information can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website.

 Find out more about the Kigali Amendment - Ministry for the Environment website

What are the alternatives?

When you are searching for an alternative refrigerant or considering replacing appliances, we encourage you to think about energy efficiency of the equipment and the refrigerant, human health and safety, the ability to maintain your appliance with available refrigerants throughout the life of the plant/equipment, and how compatible the refrigerant is with your plant/equipment. It is recommended that you consider the long term costs and benefits of both, prior to choosing which refrigerant you will use in your system.

When changing refrigerants in plant or equipment, there are two additional factors that will affect your choice; whether you can use a drop in alternative (via changing the lubricant oil and some possible maintenance of some parts), or whether you completely retrofit the plant/equipment to handle a new refrigerant.

The Industry for Refrigeration, Heating and Air-conditioning Engineers (IRHACE) website may be the best place to ask any technical questions.

Further information - The Industry for Refrigeration, Heating and Air-conditioning website

Substances that are phased out Plus
  • Carbon tetrachloride
  • CFC: Chlorofluorocarbons
  • Halon
  • HCFC: Hydrochlorofluorocarbons
  • Methyl chloroform
  • Methyl Bromide (non-Quarantine/Pre-shipment use)Hydrobromofluorocarbons (HBFCs)
Alternative refrigerants Plus

Some alternative refrigerants include (but are not limited to):
• Ammonia
• Carbon dioxide
• HC: Hydrocarbon
• HFO: Hydrofluoroolefin
• PFC: Perfluorocarbon
• PFO: Perfluoroolefin

Please contact your industry body for more information about the best alternative refrigerant to use.

Products containing (or using) prohibited ozone depleting substances Plus

Under Regulation 19, the following products may be prohibited from import if they contain or are designed to contain controlled substances:

  • Aerosols

  • Air conditioning and heat pump units; other domestic and commercial refrigeration and air-conditioning or heat pump equipment

  • Automobile and truck air conditioning units (whether incorporated in vehicles or not)

  • Dehumidifiers, refrigerators, freezers, air-conditioners, supermarket display cases, heat pumps, and water coolers that contain any CFC, ice machines that contain any controlled substances (other than HCFC or methyl bromide)

  • Dry-cleaning machines

  • Fire extinguishers

  • Insulation boards, panels and pipe covers

  • Pre-polymers (a reactive mixture of isocyanate and polyoll to which CFCs are added to manufacture rigid plastic foams)

Plastic foam, or any goods that contain any plastic foam, manufactured using CFC