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Refrigerator Manufacturers Join EPA Program to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

(1/12/06) EPA and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) have launched a new, voluntarily program to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) emissions from the coolant and insulation used in making new refrigerators and freezers. Once implemented, the program will significantly reduce HFC emissions in the manufacturing of 12 million refrigerator-freezers in the United States and more than 60 million worldwide each year.

HFCs are used in refrigerators and freezers in two ways - as the "working fluid" refrigerant and as a "blowing agent" for the insulation foam within the cabinet walls. HFCs have become widely used as substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting chemicals that have been phased out. While HFCs do not harm the stratospheric ozone layer, when released to the atmosphere, they are potent greenhouse gases -- up to 1,300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The new program recommends specific strategies for reducing emissions during all stages of production of household refrigerators and freezers including delivery, storage, and transfer of refrigerants and blowing agents, as well as factory piping, blending operations, calibration of foam blowing equipment, foam injection and refrigerant system charging, testing, and refrigerant recovery. Due to the increasing cost of refrigerants and blowing agents, there is a strong incentive for manufacturers to minimize emissions and waste.

EPA is working collaboratively with many industries to quantify emissions and to promote better and more advanced technologies in key sectors, including refrigeration. This agreement is part of a series of similar, sector-specific initiatives on HFCs that EPA began with 22 companies in the fire protection industry in 2004.

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