We won't have a society if we destroy the environment.

Margaret Mead.

Destroying Refrigerants Safely

Most refrigerant gases are classed as Synthetic Greenhouse Gases (SGHGs). Irresponsible disposal of SGHGs has damaged our atmosphere. Thankfully, we're doing something about it.

Older refrigeration and air conditioning units in New Zealand may still contain CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons), which are chlorine-based and Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS).

The use of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) and more recently some SGHGs are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol.

It's essential that all gases are contained and safely destroyed whenever an old refrigeration or air conditioning unit comes to the end of its useful life. That's where Refrigerant Recovery comes in.

By recovering and destroying SGHGs safely, we're stopping them from being emitted into the atmosphere and helping to achieve a significant reduction in carbon emissions.

Drop off old refrigerant cylinders at your nearest Patton's store.

What happens when your cylinder is dropped off?

Refrigerant destruction plant
We send SGHGs to be destroyed safely in a Plasma Plant.

Upon receipt of your unwanted refrigerant, the contracted team at Pattons inspect and record details of the cylinder - such as whether it is still compliant, the net weight, etc.

From there, the cylinder is decanted into a larger cylinder, essentially bulking up what comes in.  Once we have filled a 20' shipping container, it is sent to Australia for destruction through a plasma plant - one of the few internationally approved technologies for the safe destruction of synthetic refrigerants.

Find a Patton's Recovery Centre

The process of destruction

At the heart of a plasma plant is an argon arc operating in excess of 10,000^C.  The refrigerant is fed into the arc at a controlled rate. At these temperatures, the refrigerant molecule is broken down into its individual atoms - hydrogen, fluorine, carbon and (in some cases) chlorine.

The individual atoms are rapidly cooled with a caustic soda solution, thereby creating salt - sodium chloride (table salt) and sodium fluoride - which can be safely disposed of.

The empty one tonne cylinders are returned to New Zealand for refilling.

A basic outline of the destruction process for refrigerant gases.

The cost of refrigerant destruction & how we are funded

In New Zealand, we share the cost of refrigerant destruction through a levy system, which ultimately passes the cost to the consumer who enjoys the benefit of the refrigerant gas.

The advance destruction fee (ADF) collected by Recovery is used to finance the destruction of unwanted refrigerants.

When Recovery first commenced operation more than 20 years ago, little refrigerant was being collected for destruction compared to the levies being received.  This has enabled Recovery to accumulate funds for future destructions activity and we now have enough funds to destroy refrigerants for another 8 years should ADF collection stop today.

There is 200 years' worth of refrigerant in use around New Zealand that will one day need to be destroyed.

Unfortunately, Recovery collects ADF on less than half the refrigerant coming into New Zealand and yet we provide a Recovery service to everyone in the industry, regardless of whether they pay the ADF.

How you can help?

    • If your refrigerator or air conditioning unit is 10/20+ years old, get it checked to ensure there's no leakage of refrigerant gas.
    • Please check that your installer or serviceman pays the ADF.


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