All current users of HCFC-based air conditioning systems must develop a plan to manage their operations without virgin gas after December to avoid damaging their business and incurring additional costs.

The warning comes from the F-Gas Support unit - a UK government organisation set up to help businesses deal with the EU Florinated Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Regulations.

Refrigerant R22 is one of the most commonly used refrigerants in the UK. The imminent ban on the use of virgin HCFC gases represents a business threat to any company which uses refrigerants like R22 or R408A in their process or air conditioning systems, many of which are critical to business operation.

Under the regulations from 1st January 2010 it will be illegal to use virgin HCFCs to service refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) equipment. The organisation said the ban applies “even if HCFC was purchased before the January deadline” and it is illegal to stockpile and use any supplies of virgin HCFCs after this date.

The rules will be tightened further in January 2015 when it will be illegal to use recycled or reclaimed HCFCs to service RAC equipment.