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New chapter in fridge recycling debacle

A further twist has been added to the fridge recycling saga after a UN report ruled that CFC substitutes were themselves harmful to the environment.

RAL Quality Assurance Association wants appliances made with hydrocarbons to be subject to the same laws as those made with CFCs.

The Ozone-Depleting Substances Regulations ruled that from January 2002 all fridges and freezers containing CFCs had to be recycled by a licensed site.

Manufacturers started using hydrocarbons instead of CFCs - but now the UN has found that these are powerful greenhouse gasses.

A RAL Quality Assurance Association spokesman said: "In some European countries, the opinion still prevails that appliances containing CFC substitutes can be disposed of in car shredders.

"Now that the UN Environment Programme has published its study, such inappropriate disposal practice should be a thing of the past."

RAL added that the use of CFC substitutes posed new technological challenges to the fridge recycling sector.

Fridge recycling has been a controversial topic ever since the laws came in three years ago. The UK initially had no licensed facilities, and piles of dumped fridges clogged up fields and newspaper pages.

Eventually sites opened to deal with the problem, and CFCs were phased out, but this latest report has thrown the issue back into the spotlight.

A UN Environment Programme spokesman said: "Like CFCs themselves, some alternatives, such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons, are powerful greenhouse gases."

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