The decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to waive HFC prohibitions for stand-alone commercial refrigeration equipment has not adversely affected sales of True Manufacturing’s R290-based display cabinets, according to one of its executives.

The EPA announced in April that it will abide by a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling by not applying Final Rule 20 under the SNAP (Significant New Alternatives Policy) program, which delisted HFCs like R134a and R404A in self-contained cases as of 2020 and 2021.

“It hasn’t slowed us down at all,” said Todd Washburn, True’s director of sales & marketing, retail and display division, at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show inn Chicago, which concludes May 22. “If there’s a choice between and HFC and a natural refrigerant, we’re not getting people saying ‘I don’t want the natural refrigerant, low-GWP option.’ We’re not seeing resistance due to SNAP.”

In the past, some retailers or foodservice operators were concerned about whether they would be able to get service for propane units, but that is no longer the case, said Washburn.

The SNAP ruling does afford some OEMs more time to transition out of HFCs, he acknowledged. “Before it was right around the corner. Now they have more time.”

At the same time, the ultimate fate of HFC restrictions has not been decided, with the EPA and Congress still looking at ways to regulate the gas. Moreover, the government of California is planning to regulate HFCs. No manufacturer, noted Washburn, wants to address California separately from the rest of the U.S.

“If there’s a choice between and HFC and a natural refrigerant, we’re not getting people saying ‘I don’t want the natural refrigerant, low-GWP option.’”

Todd Washburn, True Manufacturing

Washburn also alluded to the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which calls for a global phase-down of HFCs. U.S. manufacturers like True are urging the Senate to ratify the amendment because without ratification, U.S. companies would be blocked from exporting HVAC&R equipment to countries that have ratified the Kigali Amendment.

“Kigali is a big deal for U.S. manufacturers,” he said. “We’re watching that like a hawk.”

True received an ENERGY STAR Excellence Award Product Design from the EPA last month. Washburn said True’s R290 cases are 20%-30% more efficient than comparable HFC cases, with two-thirds of the savings coming directly from the refrigerant change. “You don’t need as much R290 to remove the heat.”

True has converted about 85% of its self-contained display cases to R290. The R290 units are “free flowing into the marketplace and are widely accepted, with virtually no pushback,” Washburn said.

True’s manufacturing process has virtually eliminated leaks of R290, he added. 

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