F gases and ozone depleting substances

Phase down and bans on F gas and ODS


Governments have introduced legislation to restrict and phase down the use of fluorinated gases (F gas) and ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

The phase down of F gas is designed to steadily reduce the global warming potential (GWP) of all gases placed on the market in refrigeration, heat pumps and air conditioning in the UK and the European Union.

The current EU F-Gas Regulation (which continues to apply in NI under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol) aims to:

  • limit the total amount of the most important F gas that can be sold in the EU from 2015 onwards and phasing them down, helping move towards more climate-friendly technologies
  • ban the use of F gas in many new types of equipment where less harmful alternatives are widely available
  • prevent emissions of F gas from existing equipment by requiring checks, proper servicing and recovery of the gases at the end of the equipment's life

The overall aim is for F gas use to be cut by two thirds by 2030 compared with 2014 levels.

Find out more about EU legislation to control F gas.

2022 ban on placing types of refrigeration and freezer equipment on the market

From 1 January 2022 businesses cannot place on the market the following two categories of refrigeration equipment containing F gas:

  • new refrigerators and freezers for commercial use (hermetically sealed equipment) that contain F gas with GWP of 150 or more
  • new multipack centralised refrigeration systems for commercial use with a rated cooling capacity of 40 kW or more that contain, or whose functioning relies upon, F gas with GWP of 150 or more, except in the primary refrigerant circuit of cascade systems where F gas with a GWP of less than 1,500 may be used

Find out more about the 2022 ban on placing types of refrigeration and freezer equipment on the market.

2020 ban on certain types of refrigerants containing F gas

From 1 January 2020 there is a prohibition on certain types of refrigerants with a greenhouse warming potential (GWP) greater than 2500 being used to service or refill refrigeration or freezer systems in Northern Ireland.

This ban applies to many commonly used refrigeration or freezer systems by many businesses. It applies to F gas in applications including:

  • small hermetically sealed systems
  • condensing units
  • central pack systems

Find out more about the 2020 ban on certain types of refrigerants containing F gas.

Banned ozone-depleting substances

ODS has been largely phased out throughout Europe, but can still be found in older equipment. There are also a few exceptions for certain uses.

You must not use hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), including recycled or reclaimed HCFCs:

  • in new equipment
  • to service equipment

You can still use equipment that contains HCFCs.

You can only produce and market ODS as a feedstock for producing non-ODS substances, eg non-stick coatings, and for laboratory and analytical work. You must clearly label feedstock ODS and indicate that it can only be used for that purpose.

Some equipment still in use may contain banned or controlled ODS, and may also be traded illegally. You should be aware of which are banned, where you might find them and what to do if you discover them.

Find out more about restrictions on the use of ozone depleting substances.