Refrigerant gases (CFC, HCFC, Halon  and  HFC) are widely used in applications in the field of cooling and air conditioning. These substances are considered "greenhouse gases" and, therefore, if released into the atmosphere, contribute to global warming. CFC, HCFC and Halon, moreover, are also responsible for the  deterioration of the stratospheric ozone layer.

These substances are the subject of several  legislation provisions  of European Community or national origin. Despite the different legal basis, all rules are intended to encourage the gradual elimination of the use of the most harmful products to the environment (CFC, HCFC and Halon), thus promoting the recovery of all refrigerants and reduce the loss of installations through accurate checks.

It is important to note, however, that all refrigerants extracted from decommissioned equipment and systems are subject to both the reference standard for each class of substances, and the provisions relating to the management of hazardous waste laid down in Leg. Decree 3 April 2006 No. 152 and subsequent amendments. The waste refrigerants, in fact, are surveyed in the  European Cadastre of Waste with the codes  140601*  (CFC, HCFC and HFC) or  160504* (gases in pressure containers - including Halon - containing dangerous substances).

The gases harmful to the ozone are regulated by the European Regulation (EC) 1005/2009, by the Law 549/93 and subsequent amendments, by M.D. 3 October 2001 and M.D. 20 December 2005. The sanctions, instead, are provided by the Legislative Decree 13 September 2013, No.108.   Heavy sanctions are established for offenders. Among the most significant are the administrative fine of up to 130,000 Euro, as provided by art. 13, for the  non-recovery of controlled substances  during maintenance operations. The same art. 13, then, provides a fine of up to 150,000 Euro for those making the recovery, recycling and regeneration of ozone depleting substances without having concluded an agreement with the Ministry of Environment and Economic Development.

The Regulation (EC) 1005/2009 prohibits the manufacture, placing on the market and use of all substances controlled, as well as products and equipment which contain or rely on those substances, providing special exceptions (critical uses, laboratory uses, process agents and raw materials).  Other notable exception concerns the use and placing on the market of recycled or regenerated HCFCs which is allowed until 31 December 2014, limited to the maintenance and servicing of cooling and air conditioning devices, existing heat pumps, at the conditions laid down in Articles 11(3) and 11(4) of the Regulations. HCFCs may be present only in cooling and air conditioning systems and existing heat pumps, their use is prohibited, that is, their use in the maintenance and servicing, including recharging.

The Law No. 549 of 28 December 1993, as amended by Law No. 179 of 16 June 1997, is, instead, meant to encourage the cessation of stratospheric ozone-depleting substances and to prevent or reduce their emissions into the atmosphere.  To this end, the law governs, inter alia, the collection, recycling and disposal of such substances. In particular, it is expected that the activities of recovery, recycling, regeneration and destruction of ozone depleting substances contained in devices and plants are carried out exclusively by Authorised Collection Centres, pursuant to the same law: both in the case in which the gases are extracted during maintenance or at the end of the service life of the equipment or facilities.

Subsequent implementation decrees have regulated the procedures for the conclusion and content of planning agreements and obligations of Collection Centres (M.D. 3 October 2001and M.D. 20 December 2005), as well as the technical standards for the extraction of the gases contained in the equipment and systems (M.D. 20 September 2002 and D.P.R. 15 February 2006 No. 147).

HFCs, however, since they are not ozone depleting substances, are governed by the European Regulation (EC) 842/2006, by the Directive 2006/40/EC (only for air-conditioning systems in motor vehicles) and by Regulation (EC) No 303/2008 .  The rules on sanctions for infringement of this European Community law are stated by Legislative D. 5 March 2013, No. 26.