HOME APPLIANCE INDUSTRY SETS GOAL TO ELIMINATE USE OF
The U.S. and Canadian household refrigerator industry continues its long-standing
environmental stewardship and calls for cooperation from government and safety authorities
to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
WASHINGTON, D.C. and Ottawa, ON (February 9, 2016) — The Association of Home Appliance
Manufacturers has announced a goal — for which it is seeking the support of government and
safety authorities — to voluntarily phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants
used in household refrigerators and freezers after 2024. This effort builds on a history of
environmental stewardship that includes significant gains in energy and water efficiency and
the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances without losing these efficiency gains.
In the past, home appliance manufacturers made environmentally beneficial transitions away
from CFCs and HCFCs, refrigerants that are also ozone-depleting substances, to non-ozonedepleting
HFCs. These moves were made in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency and other regulators. HFCs have become a concern, however, since they have a
relatively high global warming potential. Recognizing this concern, the industry is already well
on the way to transitioning away from the use of HFCs in foam insulation by 2020.
The emergence of alternatives with essentially no potential to contribute to global warming will
enable the industry to phase out the use of HFCs, given sufficient time to address related safety
and engineering impacts on products and factories. Because some of the next generation
refrigerants are flammable, a transition will require a cooperative effort of manufacturers,
refrigerant suppliers and the safety standards bodies in the U.S. and Canada, as well as the
relevant federal safety, environmental and energy agencies in both countries.
“Regardless of the next-generation refrigerant chosen by appliance manufacturers, products
must still adhere to stringent energy efficiency requirements, be compatible with product
components, be safe for consumers and manufacturing workers and be functional and cost effective,” said AHAM President and CEO Joe McGuire. “That is why the industry has projected
that with everyone’s full cooperation, 2024 is the earliest possible transition date. The
timetable is longer for room air conditioning products given the added work needed to address
viable alternatives and building codes for multi-housing units,” said McGuire.
Challenges of a transition
A transition away from HFCs will present design and engineering challenges for manufacturers
and will require significant engineering updates to refrigerators and freezers. The appliance
industry, however, is willing and able to take on this task so that refrigerators continue to be a
non-factor in the global emissions of greenhouse gasses. While the primary alternative to HFCs
in refrigerators and freezers, isobutane, is used widely around the world and has a very low
global warming potential, its use in the U.S. and Canada will require manufacturers to make
technically challenging adjustments to products and factories to ensure that refrigerators
continue to meet more stringent safety standards than those in other parts of the world. Unlike
in other countries, current safety standards in the U.S. and Canada place stricter limits on the
amount of flammable refrigerants that can be used in a refrigerator, and the technical changes
required to keep these products functioning properly under the constraints of those standards
could add significant costs to the bulk of refrigerators on the market.
An ongoing commitment
The home appliance industry takes environmental responsibility seriously, is moving forward
with the voluntary HFC phase-down and asks others to join in this effort to expedite this
transition. AHAM is asking the EPA and Consumer Product Safety Commission as well as
counterpart agencies in Canada to support its voluntary efforts through further evaluation of
alternatives to HFCs and protective, justified updates to safety standards to facilitate the use of
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The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) is the trade association representing manufacturers
of major, portable and floor care home appliances and suppliers to the industry sold in the U.S. and Canada.
AHAM is headquartered in Washington, D.C. with offices in Ottawa. AHAM is the single voice providing the
home appliance industry and its customers leadership, advocacy and a forum for action — developing and
implementing credible solutions for public policy, standards and business decisions. You can visit the AHAM web
sites at http://www.aham.org