Appliance Biz Bids Goodbye to Greenhouse Gases

By Alan Wolf, YSN

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken the first step toward cutting supplies of hydrofluorocarbon coolants (HFCs) — the greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners — by 85 percent over 15 years.

The mandate, included in last December’s $2 trillion federal spending and pandemic relief package, is designed to cut the equivalent of 4.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions between 2022 and 2050, The Wall Street Journal reported. Besides reducing climate impact, the use of alternative coolants along with lower compliance costs is expected to produce a net gain of $284 billion for the economy over the same period, the EPA projects.

According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), white-goods vendors are way ahead of the curve. Kevin Messner, the trade group’s Senior VP for Policy and Government Relations, said the appliance industry has already transitioned out of HFC blowing agent, and that most refrigerators will no longer use HFC refrigerants by next year. What’s more, the group is asking the EPA to begin banning these coolants for portable air conditioners and most room air conditioners as soon as 2023.

“The industry is continuing its commitment to the environment by announcing this latest step to move to more environmentally friendly refrigerants,” Messner said in a statement. He told the newspaper that a phaseout of HFCs in all home appliances is likely by 2024.

Based on past coolant phaseouts, retail prices on appliances may eventually rise no more than 2 percent, The Journal said, citing the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, a coalition of manufacturers, distributors, contractors and refrigerant reclaimers.