New EU F-Gas regulations to tighten the buying and selling of R134a refrigerant have come into effect from the start of January.
The changes are designed to improve compliance with F-Gas rules. These have required workshops buying R134A have F-Gas qualified Technicians since July 2010. It’s suggested up to 50% have simply ignored the requirement, but this looks set to become more difficult.
The changes have implications for garage owners, workshop technicians – and primarily those supplying R134a refrigerant. The EU, working through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), have placed extra new responsibility on the seller to ensure F-Gas handling qualifications are in place.
Where the F-Gas Regulation 2006 MAC Directive (40/2006) placed legal responsibility only with the buyer, the 2014 EU F-Gas Regulation (517/2014), uses the phrase “sold to and purchased by”.
So, those supplying garages will have to change the way they operate, and keep R134a sales records from 1st January. It’s also mandatory to verify workshops buying R134A have F-Gas qualified Technicians. The sale of New 1234Yf Refrigerant is exempt from the screening and record keeping requirement, and does not require the technician to have an F-Gas qualification.
James McClean, managing director of Motorclimate and CompressorTech, and a leading supplier to UK motor factors, is keen to flag up the new screening requirements and is urging sellers to take action early.
He says legally compliant record keeping requires two elements; first, a customer (Workshop) letter of assurance which will need to be signed by each customer, then secondly, a customer employee (Technician) form detailing, name, qualification awarding body, certificate no and expiry date.
McClean adds from conversations with DEFRA its “highly unlikely” there will be any fines, penalties or prosecutions during 2015 – unless there is no attempt to keep records. More rigorous enforcement, which could include spot checks or fines, may begin late next year.
He said: “DEFRA admit that no reasonable lead time has been offered to the car parts wholesalers or distributors, but eventually the system will be policed, and fines could be handed out to factors and workshops that don’t follow the new rules.”
McClean says taking action early can help motor factors cement their supply relationships. If the customer does not have qualified technicians, R134a can still be supplied for use on 18 specified types of vehicles excluded from the legislation. These include buses, coaches, plant, agricultural, heavy commercial and emergency services vehicles.
McClean concludes: ‘If the garage technician signs to say that he is buying R134a for use only on the 18 vehicle types, then you can legally sell to him.”
Further information on the record-keeping requirements can be found on the government website by using the ‘More Details’ button below.