From 1 January 2020, a new condition has been added to your refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) permit.

Permit holders must not charge RAC equipment with a refrigerant that has a higher global warming potential (GWP) than the refrigerant the equipment was designed to use. 

TIP: The equipment compliance plate will tell you which refrigerant the equipment is designed to use.

Such charging is an offence under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations1995 and penalties apply. This offence applies to any person carrying out work on RAC equipment, regardless of whether they have a permit.

Why has charging with a higher GWP refrigerant been banned?

RAC equipment is inherently leaky. If you replace a no GWP or low GWP refrigerant with a high GWP refrigerant, you will ultimately get more global warming emissions.

The ban on charging RAC equipment with refrigerants that have a higher GWP than the equipment was designed to support Australia’s response to the hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phase-down and the transition to no GWP or low GWP refrigerants. 

Examples of charging that is now prohibited

  • In the automotive industry, you cannot replace R-1234yf (GWP of ~1) with HFC-134a (GWP of ~1,430).
  • In medium temperature commercial refrigeration, you cannot replace HFC-407A (GWP of ~2,100) with HFC‑404A (GWP of ~4,000).

Exemptions to prohibited charging offence

  • The ban does not apply to RAC equipment designed to operate using hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are ozone depleting substances.
  • If RAC equipment is essential for health or public safety and there is no originally designed refrigerant or no low GWP or no GWP refrigerant available, you can charge it with a higher GWP refrigerant.