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Refrigeration and freezing: rules are being adjusted

Climate and ozone layer to be better protected in the future

Refrigeration and freezing are subject to regulation. This often relates to the refrigerants used. That is well known. But these rules will tighten and will undergo adjustments in the coming years. But what will actually happen?


These relate, among other things, to the refrigerants used. Most installations are equipped with synthetic refrigerants: (H)CFCs, HFOs, HFCs, and F-gases. Installers are required to hold an F-gas certificate, while fitters must hold an F-gas diploma.

European legislators are tightening the rules. For several years now the R22 refrigerant was not allowed to be refilled. This also applies to refrigerants mixed with R22: R401, R402, R403, R408, and R409. In the long run, a further reduction of synthetic refrigerants is expected.

GWP factor

In the somewhat shorter term, something else will first happen. From 2020, refrigerants with a GWP factor (Global Warming Potential factor) higher than 2500 will be prohibited. This factor indicates the extent to which the substances deplete the ozone layer and threaten the atmosphere, resulting in global warming. European legislators want to put a stop to this.

Most refrigeration and freezing installations now use the refrigerant R404, which has a GWP factor of 3200, well above the 2500 mark, that will come into force in 2020. This means that the existing refrigerant must be replaced. For further information see

Questions at time of purchase

Entrepreneurs or managers who purchase a refrigeration or freezer installation, ready-to-connect refrigeration or freezer equipment will, of course, have to pay attention to matters such as price, quality, and suitability. Moreover, they will have to ask the supplier about the refrigerant. Which refrigerant has been used? Until when is it still allowed? What are the alternatives? And are there perhaps similar installations or equipment on the market that have a longer refrigerant life?

What does this mean for the equipment? We put the question to Uwe Reimer, Commercial Director at Hoshizaki Europe, which also accommodates Gram .‘The industry has alternative refrigerants below 2500 GWP. So, there is no need to worry about this.’

‘There are producers like us’, he continues ‘who already switched to natural refrigerants years ago. As such, users will not have to switch to another refrigerant by 2020.’

Natural refrigerants

Natural refrigerants are flammable. Therefore, the legislator stipulates that the maximum amount of natural refrigerant used per refrigeration or freezing installation is 150 grams. However, there will still be possibilities for natural refrigerants in larger installations. If these are equipped with additional safety measures, natural refrigerants may be used here as well.

The safety measures mainly concern sensors and valves which, in the event of a leak, close the system to prevent large quantities of refrigerant being released. This also applies to CO2 and ammonia installations.

For now, mass catering suppliers and their customers will remain unaffected. But this will change as of 2022. By then, European legislators want to move towards a GWP of less than 150. That is significantly lower than that of 2020. Reimer: ‘The industry has no suitable answer to that yet.’

Just to be clear: This problem does not arise with natural refrigerants. Their GWP falls far below the norm.

Author: Jaap de Graaf – Editor-in-Chief