HCFC stakeholders struggle to action decisions

The final HCFC stakeholder meeting of 2017 took place on 6 December, discussing issues such as the reclaiming equipment destined for South Africa, the reporting of import figures, as well as the long-awaited proposed road show…



The stakeholder meeting was proceeded by a meeting of the working group appointed to facilitate the distribution of the reclaiming equipment sponsored by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

The shipment consists of four reclaim stations, comprising of the reclaim units, recovery and storage cylinders of different sizes (ranging from 12.5ℓ litre to 400ℓ), platform scales, gas analysers, charging hoses and gauges.

The aim of the working group is to plan how this equipment will be used and where it should be located within South Africa. As part of this project, a study tour was planned to visit Argentina and Mexico to gain insight as to how similar systems have been utilised to encourage the recovery of refrigerant.

From the report back at the proceeding stakeholder meeting, there was still no clarity as to where this equipment was to be placed. It was confirmed however, that the equipment was already available and in storage in Europe. Included in the supply of the equipment, would be training given by the supplier of the equipment who would come to South Africa and train the people on site.

The report back was received with reservation as to how this equipment was really going to be used. You get the impression that everyone had an attitude of ‘let’s wait and see’.


The attendance at the stakeholder meeting was fair but below average. It was chaired by Margaret Molefe of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

Lubabalo Maweni of DEA expressed concern that a number of issues were discussed at the stakeholder meetings but were never brought to finality but instead passed on from one meeting to the next.

There was discussion around the mailing list and people were once again asked that they advise the DEA of any changes that had to be made to the mailing list as there were still people on the list who were no longer involved.


Once again it was said that the custom tariff headings had been finalised and would be published very soon. It would become effective as of January 2018.

The annual reporting of imports by permit holders created a lot of debate and discussion. Some of the importers had been visited by the South African Revenue Services (SARS) and the DEA to verify figures and it was questioned as to the need to see invoices from overseas suppliers. The DEA confirmed that this was done merely to verify the figures and SARS are entitled to do an audit on import documentation. According to the DEA, the National Ozone Unit (NOU) was not trying to gain any access to any commercial information but rather to verify importation volumes.

A lot of time was spent on this matter.


There was a discussion about the proposed road show which had been discussed on numerous occasions. The meeting was informed that the NOU planned to have four similar one day forums during the month of March – being held in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. They said that it was hoped that each of the meetings in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town would draw at least 200 delegates with 100 in PE.

The road show aims to inform the industry of all the key elements in South Africa’s HCFC Phaseout Management Plan (HPMP). Although there has been much media coverage and announcements made about the phase out of HCFCs, the Montreal Protocol (MP) and the impact of HVAC&R systems on global warming, there are still sectors of the industry that aren’t even aware that R22 is being phased out in South Africa.

The signatories of the MP are already considering the phase down of HFCs. The road show was planned to address these issues and provide an easy-to-use handbook with all the key elements to understands the whole phase out of refrigerants instead of referring to the many documents and publications that have been produced since South Africa signed the Montreal Protocol in January 1990.

The proposed road show was received with much resistance at the meeting and reservation as to the justification for an expenditure of that nature when far more could be achieved by just telling people when visiting the wholesalers. Representatives from Macscool in particular felt that their constant contact with many role players would achieve far more with less expenditure than the costly roadshows. It was highlighted that there are many, many small contractors who would never contemplate going to a free one-day roadshow. They are too busy earning a living to consider it.

The discussion emphasised how unregulated the industry is considering that so many people are able to operate, service equipment, repair equipment, and buy refrigerants without any formal training in the safe handling of refrigerants and are most likely never going to be registered by the South African Qualifications and Certification Committee for gas (SAQCC Gas). Once again, it was estimated that the number of people in South Africa that actually handle refrigerants during the course of their business, varies between 4 000 or 10 000 and could even be as high as 12 000.

Barney Richardson of the South African Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SARACCA) highlighted the topic further by confirming that those registered in all categories with SAQCC are only in the region of 2 000. And many didn’t renew their registration which lapsed after three years.

The chairperson reassured everyone that she noted all comments but considered it important that the road show go ahead and the NOU would continue with the planning as it would be vital for the realisation of the HPMP and formed a part of the funding provided by UNIDO for its implementation.

An important part of the road show is to distribute a handbook so that when the delegates leave the roadshow, they have something to take and use as a reference. The same book would be distributed to others that aren’t able to attend the roadshow. Volunteers were asked to assist in compiling the content of the handbook and the information was requested be sent by 20 January for the book to be produced ahead of the Road Show in early March 2018. The deadline was tight and by 20 January just two contributions were received.   

Meeting attendees were also reminded that the DEA would send a letter of appeal to any suppliers or companies that were prepared to sponsor the roadshow in form of delegate bags, pens and so on.


Barney Richardson advised that the entire training curriculum for artisans was in the process of being reviewed and role players need to be aware of it and should watch the media for announcements.

An update was also given on the training pilot project at the Capricorn TVET training college in Mpumalanga where a course in refrigeration is to be introduced with the first intake of students set for March 2018.


The requirement of a monetary value on quotas and import permits for refrigerants was questioned. Between the issue of the permit and actual importation, the value could change significantly because of price increases by suppliers and changes in the exchange rate. At times the difference in value was questioned by customs and caused delays even though the volume / mass of the importation was within the permit / quota.

The DEA gave assurance that the matter will be investigated as the monetary value was only required for the payment of VAT and imports should not be delayed if the volumes / mass is within the quota / permit.



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