California drops ban on DIY refrigerant cans

California drops ban on DIY refrigerant cans

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has adopted an extensive set of technical, labeling, education and reporting obligations forCalifornia drops ban on DIY refrigerant cans manufacturers of Do-it-yourself containers of automotive refrigerant with high global warming potential. However, the original 2007 proposal to completely ban the refrigerant cans was dropped.

On 22 January 2009, CARB adopted a regulation to apply stricter rules to manufacture Do-It-Yourself (DIY) cans of motor vehicle air-conditioning (MVAC). The regulation also provides rules for the servicing of the MVACs and will enter into force on 1 January 2010. It will require manufacturers to comply with an extensive set of technical, labeling, recycling, education, reporting and recordkeeping rules that will make the production and sales of HFC-134a and any other refrigerant with a GWP of more than 150 more complicated and expensive.

Main provisions of this new regulation include:

  • Technology: Containers of refrigerants must be equipped with self-sealing valves
    Labeling: Each container must clearly display instructions for safe use, and must indicate a warning on global warming impacts.
  • Recycling: A new industry-run container deposit and recycling program to recover and recycle refrigerant remaining in a used can
  • Education: A manufacturer-developed education program will provide information about best techniques to recharge the MVAC, identify and repair leaks, and describe environmental hazards associated with the refrigerant and components

No complete ban of R134a DIY cans

The adopted rules are set to enable GHG reductions of more than 250,000 metric CO2 tons per year in 2020, only half the reductions that would be achieved through a total ban of R-134a DIY cans. The original 2007 proposal to outright ban do-it-yourself cans was dropped for “cost-efficiency” arguments. Instead of costing 159$ per ton of GHG saved from entering the atmosphere under a complete ban, the implementation of this regulation will only cost 11$ per ton with a 1$ average increase in can price.

R-134a, the most used refrigerant in air-conditioning systems today is a potent GHG with a GWP of 1410. These stricter rules will further control its uses and could open the way for greater usage of alternative refrigerants, such as hydrocarbons or CO2.


The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) directs the Air Resources Board to develop early actions to reduce greenhouse gases as part of the State’s efforts to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. A number of the early action measures recommended by CARB targets high global warming gases in mobile and stationary refrigeration.

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