The 2024 HVAC Disposable Cylinder Ban: Why It was Overturned

The 2024 disposable cylinder ban, which aimed to phase out single-use containers for transporting refrigerants, has been overturned. The decision to overturn the ban has been met by relief from many HVAC industry groups and concerns among environmental advocates. 

In this article, we will explore:

  • How overturning the cylinder ban impacts your business
  • Primary reasons behind the overturning of the ban 
  • Top influencing factors in this decision

Aim Act of 2020

The disposable cylinder ban in the United States is a result of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020.

The act mandates the Environmental Protection Agency (i.e. EPA) reduce the production and consumption of HFCs by 85% over the next 15 years. The intended goal of the law is to mitigate the possible effects of climate change.

Also, it includes provisions to ban the sale of non-refillable (e.g. disposable) cylinders after December 31, 2024. Additionally, it would’ve required QR code tracking for individual cylinders through the supply chain.

However, this provision has been welcomed by some and rejected by others.

Why Ban Cylinders and Require QR Code Tracking? 

Disposable cylinders have long been the primary mode of transporting refrigerants in the HVACR industry. 

These single-use containers, typically made of steel or aluminum, are used to store and transport refrigerant gasses, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are potent greenhouse gasses.

Unfortunately, the use of disposable cylinders contributes to the release of these harmful gasses into the atmosphere. This goes along with the phase down HFCS of 2024 .

When these cylinders are disposed of after use, they often end up in landfills or are incinerated, leading to the release of greenhouse gasses. Moreover, the manufacturing process for disposable cylinders consumes energy and natural resources, further worsening the environmental impact. 

The 2024 ban aimed to address these concerns and transition the HVACR industry towards more sustainable practices.

This ban would have encouraged the adoption of alternative methods, such as reusable cylinders or bulk delivery systems. 

Petitions Against the EPA

Three trade associations, HARDI, Air Conditioning Contractors of America (i.e. ACCA) and Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (i.e. PHCC), along with US cylinder manufacturer Worthington Industries, filed petitions against EPA. They claimed that the non-refillable cylinder ban and the requirement to track individual cylinder provisions exceeded its authority. 

On Tuesday, June 20, 2023, the court agreed with these challenges, and the EPA has been ordered to vacate these portions of the allocation rule. Although, the EPA may challlenge the decision in the court of appeals.

Industry Challenges and Stakeholder Input

One of the reasons behind the overturning of the ban is because of the substantial challenges faced by the HVACR industry in implementing the ban’s requirements.

Industry stakeholders argued that transitioning away from disposable cylinders would require significant investments in:

  • Infrastructure 
  • Changes in logistics
  • Retraining of personnel 

These challenges could disrupt the supply chain and impose financial burdens on businesses.

Cost Considerations

The ban’s opponents have emphasized the potential economic impact on HVACR businesses. This is especially true with smaller companies, which might struggle with the costs associated with alternative transport methods. 

Disposable cylinders have long been the most commonly used mode of transporting refrigerants due to their affordability and accessibility. Transitioning to alternative solutions, such as fully recyclable cylinders or bulk delivery systems, would entail higher upfront costs, making it financially burdensome for many businesses.

Lack of Global Consensus

Another factor contributing to the overturning of the ban is the lack of global consensus on the issue. While some countries and regions have been supportive of the ban, others either did not have similar regulations in place, or they had different priorities. 

In a globally interconnected HVACR industry, inconsistencies in regulations can lead to market disruptions, hampering the smooth flow of goods and services. 

Without a unified global approach, enforcing the ban across borders would have proven challenging.

Potential Disruptions to Refrigerant Supply

Disposable cylinders have been the predominant method of delivering refrigerants to end-users. The overturning of the ban has been influenced by concerns that eliminating disposable cylinders without adequate alternatives in place could lead to disruptions in the refrigerant supply chain. 

This could impact the availability of refrigerants for HVACR businesses and potentially hinder their ability to service customers effectively.

Regulatory Reassessment and Balancing Priorities

Regulatory bodies and policymakers constantly reassess environmental regulations and priorities. While the ban was initially proposed with the intention of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, some arguments against it have focused on the need to balance environmental concerns with economic considerations and feasibility.

The overturning of the ban suggests that policymakers may have decided to revisit the issue and explore alternative approaches to address the environmental impact of refrigerant transport.


Keeping Up With Disposable Cylinder Changes

Now, you are aware of the recent ruling to overturn the 2024 Disposable Cylinder ban. Though the law has been overturned, it’s good practice to keep track of the current regulations. 

Moving forward, it remains crucial for the HVACR industry, regulatory bodies and environmental advocates to continue collaborating and seeking alternative solutions to address the environmental impact of refrigerant transport, as well as the interests of the HVAC businesses.

Related: New 2024 Residential Efficiency Standards: What HVAC Companies Should Know


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