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Contact information
For additional information on refrigerant recovery, contact:
Cory Carter
Refrigerant compliance coordinator
Bureau of Air Management
608-789-5512

Refrigerant recovery program

In 1990, Wisconsin enacted laws to prohibit the release of certain refrigerants that destroy the earth's stratospheric ozone layer, which protects life from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Since that time, other damaging refrigerants have been added to these regulations.

As refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment is being serviced or disposed, these chemicals must be properly recovered using approved equipment operated by qualified technicians.

Overview

Overview

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regulates those who transport or salvage any type of refrigeration or air-conditioning equipment containing the regulated refrigerants.

Affected facilities include vehicle and appliance salvage operations; scrap metal processors; Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) businesses that retire refrigeration and air conditioning systems; demolition contractors for air conditioners or other equipment; and waste haulers and others who collect discarded refrigerated appliances.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) [exit DNR] regulates anyone who services vehicle air-conditioners and refrigerated transport under Ch. ATP 136, Wis. Adm. Code.

Summary of DNR refrigerant regulations

Under DNR regulations (Chapter NR 488, Wis. Adm. Code) [exit DNR], regulated refrigerants – CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, PFCs and blends – cannot be released to the environment when salvaging or dismantling whole units of any type of refrigeration or air-conditioning equipment. They must be properly recovered, using approved equipment operated by qualified technicians. The facility recovering these refrigerants must be registered with the DNR, keep records of their recovery activities and supply documentation that the refrigerants were properly removed to whomever receives the scrapped equipment. Anyone hauling equipment that is to be salvaged and still may contain refrigerants must annually certify "Safe Transport" to the DNR.

Related sites

Registration

Registration

Any private or public entity responsible for recovering regulated refrigerants from any type of equipment being salvaged must register annually with the DNR. Typical registrants include public and private vehicle and appliance salvagers, HVAC companies, and those who perform their own in-house refrigerant work when that work includes recovering regulated refrigerants from salvaged equipment.

You can register by completing Form 4500-129, Registration to Salvage or Dismantle Refrigeration Equipment [PDF]. You must provide information on the type of equipment you will salvage, your certified technicians and your recovery equipment, as well as submit the proper fee.

The annual registration fee is $250 for salvage operations. To service vehicle air conditioners, the fee is $125 if the facility is already registered with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, or $125 to service stationary equipment if the facility is already registered with the Department of Safety and Professional Services.

Complete Subcontractor Information (Form 4500-129a) [PDF] if you have arranged for another entity to recover refrigerants under your registration. Also see FAQ #8.

Registration forms

Complete, sign and send in these forms with the proper fee to this address:

Refrigerant Recovery Program
Wisconsin DNR, AM/7
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921

If your registration form is complete and the appropriate fee submitted, the DNR will approve it within 10 days and you will receive a certificate of registration.

Display registration certificate

The regulations require that you must "prominently display" this registration certificate in your place of business.

Renewal

This is an annual registration, and the DNR will send you a completed renewal form in the month before your registration expires. Simply make any corrections or additions, sign and mail the renewal form to the DNR with the required fee.

Safe transport

Safe transport

Careless practices for handling salvaged refrigeration equipment often results in ruptured coolant systems, which release refrigerants into the environment. Since 1990, Wisconsin law has prohibited these refrigerant releases. Salvagers may no longer use methods such as collecting appliances with other salvaged metals in compacting garbage trucks, or by simply "throwing them on the truck". Using lift-gate trucks, trailers with ramps, loading docks or securing appliances upright in roll-off boxes can provide the needed safety and prevent ruptures. Common sense and concern for worker safety are good guidelines to follow.

Annual certification required

State law requires that anyone transporting salvaged refrigeration equipment must certify annually to the DNR that they will transport items in a manner that prevents refrigerant releases. Certified transporters including waste haulers, community recycling programs, appliance salvage businesses and others who transport salvaged equipment before recovering the refrigerants.

Individuals hauling their own refrigerated appliances or personal refrigeration equipment to salvage are exempt from the requirement to certify safe transport, but are still prohibited from releasing regulated refrigerants. Anyone transporting a vehicle for the purposes of salvaging or dismantling is exempt from certifying safe transport, as long as they do it in a manner that will not interfere with the air-conditioning or refrigeration equipment of the vehicle. Appropriate methods include transporting vehicles on their own wheels, by tow trucks or secured on a vehicle specifically designed to transport motor vehicles.

If your facility transports equipment that may still contain regulated refrigerants for the purpose of salvaging those units, you must transport them in a manner which does not release the refrigerants, and certify this safe transport annually to the DNR.

To become a certified hauler you must annually complete and submit Certification for Safe Transport of Refrigeration Equipment (Form 4500-130) [PDF], along with a $75 fee, plus $25 for each vehicle expected to be used for safe transport during the coming year. The $75 fee is waived for those registered to recover refrigerants from salvaged equipment, as described above.

Your facility must also submit Social Security Number/FEIN Collection Request (Form 9400-568) [PDF], and must not be delinquent on state taxes to qualify for this registration.

Registration forms

This is an annual registration, and the DNR will send you a completed renewal form in the month before your registration expires. You simply make any corrections or additions, sign, and mail back with the required fee.

You will receive a receipt for this certification and fee. The receipt must be retained at your office or facility. A copy of the receipt must be placed in each vehicle used for safe transport, and must be presented to DNR personnel on request. This certification must be renewed annually if you continue safe transport activities. You will be sent a renewal form prior to the expiration date.

Facility lists

Registered facilities

These are lists of facilities registered in the DNR Refrigerant Recovery and Safe Transport Programs. Lists are updated approximately every two to three months. If you need a newer list than those posted, please contact Cory Carter.

  • Registered to Recover Refrigerants from Salvaged Items [PDF] - A list of facilities currently registered under Chapter NR 488, Wis. Adm. Code, to recover refrigerants from items being salvaged. Those classified as "Type 1" (see final column) are authorized to recover refrigerants from vehicle air-conditioners (vehicle salvagers). "Type 2" facilities may recover refrigerants from stationary equipment like appliances, building air-conditioners and commercial refrigeration equipment (e.g., appliance salvagers and HVAC companies). Those classified as "Type 3" may recover refrigerants form both vehicles and stationary equipment.
  • Certified for Safe Transport of Salvaged, Refrigerated Equipment [PDF] - A current list of facilities who have self-certified their "safe transport" of refrigerated equipment meant to be salvaged and which may still contain refrigerants. These facilities (e.g., waste haulers, community recycling programs, appliance salvagers) should be hauling equipment to facilities listed above to recover refrigerants if they are not registered to do the recovery themselves.
  • Facilities Registered to Recover Refrigerants from Salvaged Items, listed by Region and County [PDF] - A list of facilities currently registered under Chapter NR 488, Wis. Adm. Code, to recover refrigerants from items being salvaged. Those classified as "Type 1" (see final column) are authorized to recover refrigerants from vehicle air-conditioners (vehicle salvagers). "Type 2" facilities may recover refrigerants from stationary equipment like appliances, building air-conditioners and commercial refrigeration equipment (e.g., appliance salvagers and HVAC companies). Those classified as "Type 3" may recover refrigerants form both vehicles and stationary equipment. They are listed by DNR Region and County.
  • List of Wisconsin Companies Who Will Recycle Refrigerated Appliances [PDF] - These facilities have indicated that they will haul away and/or process discarded, refrigerated appliances to prepare them for transfer to scrap metal markets. You must determine if any facility can provide the service that you desire. This list is provided as a service to Wisconsin communities, appliance stores, waste haulers and others. It may not be complete, carries no expressed or implied recommendation, and does not guarantee current compliance with applicable state or federal laws.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about DNR regulations for handling and salvaging items that may contain regulated refrigerants, such as vehicles, appliances and residential or commercial air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment.

1. What activities does the DNR Refrigerant Recovery Program cover?

Salvaging and Dismantling: Under state regulations (Chapter NR 488, Wis. Adm. Code), regulated refrigerants (CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, PFCs and blends) cannot be released to the environment when salvaging or dismantling any type of refrigeration or air-conditioning equipment. The refrigerants must be properly recovered, using approved equipment operated by qualified technicians. The business recovering these refrigerants must be registered with the DNR, keep records of their recovery activities, and supply documentation that the refrigerants were properly removed to whoever receives the scrapped equipment.

Safe transport: Anyone hauling equipment that is to be salvaged and still may contain refrigerants must annually certify safe transport to the Department.

2. What laws regulate those who salvage or dismantle equipment containing refrigerants?

State of Wisconsin regulations are contained in Chapter NR 488, Wis. Adm. Code [PDF exit DNR].

3. What does "salvage or dismantle" mean in this program?

"Salvage or dismantle" means to prepare entire units of refrigeration equipment, which have been removed permanently from service and may contain regulated refrigerants, for disposal. Treatment of portions of refrigeration equipment for the purpose of service or repair is not considered salvaging or dismantling.

This definition includes preparing refrigerated appliances and vehicles with air conditioning that have been taken out of service for disposal or recycling. It also includes preparing larger commercial and industrial cooling, refrigeration or air-conditioning systems for salvage which may contain the regulated refrigerants. These systems could be taken permanently out of service to be replaced, or as part of a building demolition job.

In all cases, the refrigerants must be properly recovered before the equipment is salvaged or dismantled.

4. What kind of salvaged equipment is regulated by the DNR program?

"Refrigeration equipment" means any mechanical vapor compression device designed to contain and utilize a regulated refrigerant including, but not limited to, motor vehicle air conditioners, industrial and commercial cooling and ice-making equipment, large building cooling systems and home appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, room and central air conditioners, and dehumidifiers.

5. Which refrigerants are included in these regulations?

"Regulated Refrigerants" include four classes of refrigerants and any blends containing these refrigerants. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are ozone-depleting gases. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs) are global warming gases.

6. What options does a salvage facility have to meet the refrigerant recovery requirement?

Your salvage operation has three options you can use to comply with the requirement to recover refrigerants from salvaged equipment:

  1. You can register to recover refrigerants using your own certified technicians and recovery equipment. See the Registration tab.
  2. You can register your business (as in option a), but "subcontract" with another facility that has certified technicians and recovery equipment that is appropriate for the type of equipment you want to salvage. For instance, an auto salvage business may register and use the nearby auto service business that is state-licensed to perform work on auto air-conditioners. If you salvage appliances, you might make the same kind of arrangement with a business that is state-licensed to service refrigerated appliances.
    Under this option, your facility will submit Form 4500-129a, Subcontractor Information to provide information on the business which will recover refrigerants under your registration. See the Registration tab.
  3. You can arrange for a facility that already holds the appropriate DNR registration to recover refrigerants from the equipment you need to salvage. Although the registered company must keep detailed records of each piece of equipment they check for refrigerant and/or recover, the DNR strongly recommends that your company keep copies of all the refrigerant recovery records pertaining to equipment they handle for you. Contact Cory Carter, 608-789-5512 to find registered facilities in your area.
7. How do I or my workers get individually certified for refrigerant recovery?

The regulations require that persons who recover regulated refrigerants from salvaged items must themselves hold the appropriate certification for the type of equipment being recovered, or be directly supervised by someone who is properly certified.

Certification for "mobile" AC equipment: Persons recovering refrigerants from vehicle air-conditioners or on-road cooling systems (refrigerated transport) need to become certified at a course approved by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) under Ch. ATCP 136, Wis. Adm. Code. These courses are available throughout the state at technical colleges and private companies.

Certification for "stationary" equipment: Persons recovering refrigerants from "stationary" equipment (whole systems being salvaged) such as home appliances, building chillers, commercial refrigeration units need to obtain the appropriate U.S. EPA Section 608 certification (Type 1, 2, 3 or Universal, under 40 CFR Part 82.161) for the type of equipment you will be salvaging. Those salvaging ONLY small appliances (holding less than 5 lbs. refrigerant) can become certified through mail-in tests provided by several locations in the EPA web site listing below. You may also hold the Wisconsin Department of Safety & Professional Services "refrigerant handlers credential" provided under Ch. COMM 5, Wis. Adm. Code.

Contact the Wisconsin Dept. of Safety & Professional Services for more information on the refrigerant handling credential and in-state training resources at 608-261-8500 or see Safety & Buildings Division - Refrigerant Systems Program [exit DNR]

8. What refrigerant recovery equipment is approved for use in this program?

Chapter NR 488, Wis. Adm. Code, requires that recovery equipment must be capable of recovering at least 90% of remaining refrigerant and be tested by a nationally recognized laboratory for safety and recovery efficiency. All equipment on the market should meet the U.S. EPA standards, and then it is also acceptable for use under these regulations. Look for labeling on the equipment that states it has been tested by a recognized national testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Lab (UL). The equipment may also be labeled as "meeting US EPA requirements."

Recovery equipment approved by the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection under ch. ATCP 136 or by the Department of Safety & Professional Services under ch. COMM 5 is considered approved under this regulation.

The EPA has approved both the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) [exit DNR] and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) [exit DNR] to certify recycling and recovery equipment. Lists of certified equipment may be obtained by contacting ARI at 703-524-8800 and UL at 708-272-8800 ext. 42371.

9. What kind of records do I need to keep concerning my refrigerant recovery activities?

Persons who salvage or dismantle refrigeration equipment must keep certain records for 3 years and make them available to DNR on request. The 5 types of records are:

  1. A training certificate for each individual certified to operate approved refrigerant recovery equipment.
  2. The brand, model number and serial number of each piece of approved refrigerant recovery equipment used for refrigerant recovery.
  3. The type and quantity of equipment, the serial number or other identification number of each individual unit of refrigeration equipment salvaged or dismantled, and the date that the person either recovers the regulated refrigerant from that unit or determines that no regulated refrigerant remained in that unit. Examples of records suitable to identify individual units of refrigeration equipment include make, model and vehicle identification number (VIN) for vehicles with air conditioning, and numbering or marking which uniquely identifies each unit of refrigeration equipment salvaged or dismantled. Recording Refrigerant Recovery from Salvaged Items - Suggested Forms [PDF]
  4. Records regarding the repair and maintenance of approved refrigerant recovery equipment, including date and nature of each repair or maintenance action.
  5. A copy of the "documentation of refrigerant recovery" you have supplied to whoever receives the equipment for metal recycling or disposal. (See FAQ #12)
10. How do I provide documentation of refrigerant recovery to those receiving the salvaged refrigeration equipment?

Under state and federal law, anyone supplying salvaged equipment that once contained regulated refrigerants to a scrap metal processor must supply a document verifying that any remaining refrigerant has been properly removed. When several persons are handling the scrap before it goes to a scrap processor, the documentation should be made at each step to whoever receives the equipment and will further prepare/deliver it for scrap. This can be a scrap metal hauling company, a salvage yard or the final scrap metal processor. These companies require proof that they are handling refrigerant-free scrap and will usually provide you with a form or letter they have prepared for you to supply this documentation of refrigerant recovery.

Both the provider and recipient of this documentation must retain this document for three years, or for as long as it is valid.

SOME SCRAP PROCESSORS RECOVER REFRIGERANT: State and federal laws allow scrap processors to remove refrigerants from items after they are delivered to the processor. In this case, the processor must comply with the Chapter NR 488 requirements, as well as provide a document to the supplier of these items stating that the processor takes responsibility for removing refrigerants. A few scrap processors in the state have set up to recover refrigerants from auto air-conditioners or appliances as a service to their scrap suppliers.

11. What can I do with the used refrigerants I recover from salvaged equipment?

Used refrigerants should be stored in U.S. Department of Transportation-approved tanks with refrigerant-specific coloring and connections and marked with the type of used refrigerant contained.

RECORDS REQUIRED: Businesses selling or purchasing used refrigerants must keep records, such as sales receipts or invoices, of all refrigerants sales and purchases. The records must show the (1) date of sale or purchase, (2) name and business address of buyer and seller, and (3) the type and amount of refrigerant sold or purchased. Records must be kept a minimum of two years.

Used refrigerants recovered from salvaged motor vehicle air conditioners (MVACs) may be sold to federally certified MVAC technicians for recharging MVACs. Ask to see proof of the buyer's federal MVAC (Section 609) technician certification. These refrigerants must be recycled to industry standards before reuse in motor vehicles, and cannot be used in non-vehicle applications. In Wisconsin, this used refrigerant is restricted to MVAC repair businesses, registered with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Obtain a copy of the buyer's current DATCP business registration. Used refrigerants from MVACs may also be sold to U.S EPA-approved facilities which reclaim the refrigerants to original purity specifications (i.e., cleaned to the ARI 700 standard of purity and chemically analyzed to verify that it meets this standard) before they are resold.

Used refrigerants recovered from "stationary" equipment can be returned to the same system or other systems owned by the same person without restriction. If refrigerant changes ownership, however, that refrigerant must be reclaimed to original purity specifications (i.e., cleaned to the ARI 700 standard of purity and chemically analyzed to verify that it meets this standard) before resale. Reclamation of used refrigerant by an EPA-certified reclaimer is required in order to sell used refrigerant not originating from and intended for use with motor vehicle air conditioners. HVAC supply houses and refrigerant consolidation services can also purchase the refrigerant and send it to the reclaimer.

12. What does it mean to recovery, recycle or reclaim refrigerants?

RECOVER: To simply remove refrigerants from equipment and place them in a storage tank without testing or processing in any way. Salvage operations usually only need to obtain refrigerant recovery equipment and tanks to handle the types of refrigerants they will encounter. (Means TRANSFER, MOVE TO CONTAINER)

RECYCLE: To use a machine to remove impurities and oil in order to prepare the refrigerant for recharge into either the same piece of equipment or a different piece. Recycled refrigerant is not as pure as reclaimed refrigerant. Recycling usually occurs in the service shop. (Means CLEAN UP TO STANDARDS FOR REUSE, usually in vehicle air-conditioners).

RECLAIM: To reprocess refrigerant into new product specifications. Chemical analysis of the refrigerant is required to determine that the appropriate product specifications are met. Reclamation cannot be performed in the service shop. Rather, the shop sends refrigerant either back to the manufacturer or directly to a reclamation facility, often through a supply house or refrigerant consolidation company. The reclamation facilities must be approved by the U.S. EPA. (Means PURIFY TO ORIGINAL PRODUCT STANDARDS FOR RESALE)

13. What are the penalties for not complying with the Chapter NR 488 regulations?

The DNR can issue a citation of $100 to $1000 for each action in violation of these provisions, including:

  • Releasing regulated refrigerants during salvaging, dismantling or hauling equipment.
  • Not being registered with DNR to recover regulated refrigerants from salvaged or dismantled equipment.
  • Salvaging or dismantling equipment without using approved refrigerant recovery equipment.
  • Salvaging or dismantling by unqualified individuals.
  • Transporting refrigeration equipment meant for salvage without certifying Safe Transport to the DNR.
  • Not providing documentation of refrigerant recovery to scrap metal processors.
Last revised: Wednesday March 26 2014