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CFC Appliance Recycling and Recovery Practices


Ozone depleting substances used in refrigeration and air conditioning appliances include chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons, collectively referred to in this fact sheet as CFCs. This group of chemicals has been demonstrated to be harmful to the stratospheric ozone layer and is subject to a production phaseout. As a result of the Clean Air Act, the EPA has established a national recycling program for these substances when recovered during the servicing and disposal of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. This guideline outlines key requirements for recycling and recovery activities for appliances containing CFCs for both large and small appliances. "Small" appliances include appliances containing less than 5 pounds of refrigerant such as room size window air conditioners, residential-sized refrigerators, water bubblers, etc. This fact sheet will not address motor vehicle air conditioning equipment.

Applicable Regulations

  • 40 CFR Part 82 - Protection of Stratospheric Ozone; Refrigerant Recycling;
  • Final Rule, May 14, 1993.

Summary of Requirements

Prohibited Practices

  • No person maintaining, servicing, repairing or disposing of appliances may knowingly vent or otherwise release into the environment any CFC used as refrigerant. There are significant fines and penalties for violation of this regulation.
  • Appliances may not be opened for maintenance, service or repair, and no person may dispose of appliances unless: a) EPA-required recycling and recovery practices are followed; or b) certified recycling and recovery equipment is used.
  • No person may recover refrigerant from small appliances for the purposes of disposal of these appliances unless that person has certified to the EPA that he/she has acquired recovery equipment that meets EPA standards and that all applicable requirements are being met by that person.
  • No person may open an appliance and no person may dispose of an appliance unless that person has received the appropriate EPA technician certification. Exception: Technician certification is not required for the disposal of small appliances.

Required Practices

  • All persons opening appliances must evacuate the refrigerant to either a system receiver or a certified recycling or recovery machine. Evacuation levels are specified in EPA regulations.
  • Persons who do their own recycling and recovery of refrigerant must send the EPA a certification form.
  • Appliance evacuation levels depend on the appliance size, usage category and refrigerant type.


Technician certification is required. Certification is provided only through EPA-approved technician certification training programs. Certification category depends on appliance size and refrigerant type.


The use or operation of CFC recycling equipment is subject to registration of equipment with the EPA. Release of greater than 100 pounds of CFC 12 and CFC 113 within a 24 hour period must be reported to MDE, EPA, and the National Response Center.


  • Persons servicing, owning or operating appliances, normally containing more than 50 pounds of refrigerant, must maintain records documenting the date and type of service and the quantity of refrigerant added.
  • All records must be kept at least three years.
  • Persons disposing of small appliances must maintain copies of signed statements from the appliance supplier (e.g. the original owner or disposal contractor) if the supplier indicates that he has removed the refrigerant from the appliance.

University Resources

Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (301) 405-3960
ESSR Fax No.    (301) 314-9294
ESSR Website:

Written 5/98
Reviewed 4/05

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