Refrigerant recovery program
Wisconsin law prohibits the release of regulated refrigerants into the atmosphere.
The release of regulated refrigerants generally occurs as refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment is salvaged or dismantled for disposal. The refrigeration chemicals inside the equipment must be properly recovered using approved equipment operated by qualified technicians.
Any person who salvages or dismantles refrigeration equipment is required under NR 488, Wis. Adm. Code, to obtain annual DNR registration.
The DNR regulates those who transport, salvage or dismantle any type of refrigeration or air-conditioning equipment containing regulated refrigerants.
Affected facilities include, but are not limited to, 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.
Summary of DNR refrigerant regulations
Under DNR regulations (Ch. NR 488, Wis. Adm. Code)), regulated refrigerants — CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, PFCs, blends and many refrigerant substitutes — cannot be released to the environment when salvaging or dismantling whole units of any type of refrigeration or air-conditioning equipment. The refrigerants must be properly recovered, using approved equipment operated by qualified technicians. The facility recovering refrigerants must be registered with the DNR, keep records of their recovery activities and supply documentation that the refrigerants were properly removed to the scrapped equipment recipient. Anyone hauling equipment that is to be salvaged and still may contain refrigerants must annually certify Safe Transport (Form 4500-130) to the DNR.
- Fact sheet: DNR Requirements for Regulated Refrigerants and Salvaging Operations (AM-552)
- Wisconsin facilities must also comply with federal refrigerant regulations for stationary refrigeration equipment and motor vehicle air conditioning (MVAC) equipment under Title VI of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (40 C.F.R. Part 82).
- For detailed information and forms to register and record maintenance, see the FAQs on this page.
- For a list of DNR-registered facilities permitted to recover refrigerants from salvaged equipment or to haul salvaged equipment (e.g., appliances) that may contain refrigerants, see Facility Lists.
Registration for salvagers/dismantlers
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 equipment that will be salvaged.
Register for the DNR's salvager/dismantler program by completing Form 4500-129, Registration to Salvage or Dismantle Refrigeration Equipment. Information on the type of equipment the business will salvage, the businesses certified technicians and the recovery equipment must be provided, as well as the proper fee.
The annual registration for salvage operations is $250. 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) if the business has arranged for another entity to recover refrigerants under the registration. Also see the three options for a salvager to meet the refrigerant recovery requirements: What options does a salvage facility have to meet the refrigerant recovery requirement?
Auto salvagers note: If the business is an auto salvage dealer who does not handle their own recovery of refrigerant, view the Department of Transportation's Salvager tab on this website, to determine if the business may be able to have another company, that is registered, remove the refrigerant from the vehicles that will be salvaged.
Salvager/dismantler registration forms
- Form 4500-129, Registration to Salvage or Dismantle Refrigeration Equipment
- Subcontractor Information (Form 4500-129a)
- Social Security Number/FEIN Collection Request (Form 9400-568) (new owners or new registrants only - this is a one-time requirement for new registrants or owners and is required by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue)
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
Or email the materials to: DNRAirRefrigerantProgram@Wisconsin.gov
If the business registration form is complete and the appropriate fee submitted, the DNR will approve it, usually within 10 business days, and the business will receive an approval letter with a certificate of registration.
Display registration certificate
The regulations require that businesses must "prominently display" this registration certificate in the place of business.
This is an annual registration. The DNR will send the business a renewal form with the information on file in the month before the registration expires. The business indicates any corrections or additions on the form, signs it and mails the renewal form with required fee to the DNR.
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, etc. Using lift-gate trucks, trailers with ramps, loading docks or securing appliances upright in roll-off boxes can provide safety and prevent ruptures.
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 the transport is done 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 the facility transports equipment that may still contain regulated refrigerants for the purpose of salvaging those units, the transporter 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, transporters must annually complete and submit Certification for Safe Transport of Refrigeration Equipment (Form 4500-130), 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.
New registrants must also submit Social Security Number/FEIN Collection Request (Form 9400-568), and must not be delinquent on state taxes to qualify for this registration.
Safe transport registration forms
- Certification for Safe Transport of Refrigeration Equipment (Form 4500-130)
- Social Security Number/FEIN Collection Request (Form 9400-568) (new owners or new registrants only - this is a one-time requirement for new registrants or owners and is required by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue)
This is an annual registration. The DNR will send a completed renewal form the month before the registration expires. Make any corrections or additions to the form, sign it and mail it back to the DNR with the required fee.
The DNR will provide a receipt for the certification and fee payment. The receipt must be retained at the facility and 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 to continue safe transport activities.
The DNR maintains lists of facilities registered in its Refrigerant Recovery and Safe Transport Programs. The lists are updated approximately every three months. Please note that some of the listed facilities perform work only for their company and do not take refrigeration equipment from the public. Therefore, contact any facility before bringing refrigeration equipment to a registered facility. In addition, there may be costs associated with these services.
These are lists of facilities currently registered under Chapter NR 488, Wis. Adm. Code, to recover refrigerants from items being salvaged. Those classified as "Type 1" (see Type column) are authorized to recover refrigerants from vehicle air conditioners (vehicle salvagers). "Type 2" facilities may recover refrigerants from stationary equipment such as appliances, building air conditioners and commercial refrigeration equipment (e.g., appliance salvagers and HVAC companies). Those classified as "Type 3" may recover refrigerants from both vehicles and stationary equipment.
These are lists of facilities that 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.
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.
- 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 to the scrap equipment receiver that the refrigerants were properly removed.
Safe transport: Those hauling stationary refrigeration equipment that is to be salvaged and may still contain refrigerants must annually certify safe transport to the department. Transport of vehicles containing air-conditioning equipment is exempt from this requirement.
- What laws regulate those who salvage or dismantle equipment containing refrigerants?
State of Wisconsin regulations are contained in Chapter NR 488, Wis. Adm. Code. There are slightly different regulations for stationary refrigeration equipment and for vehicle refrigeration equipment, in state laws as well as in federal laws.
Summaries of the U.S. EPA requirements for handling salvaged equipment containing refrigerants:
- 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.
- What kind of salvaged equipment is regulated by the DNR's Refrigerant Recovery 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.
- Which refrigerants are included in these regulations?
"Regulated refrigerants" include four classes of refrigerants and any blends containing these refrigerants as well as certain substitutes for these regulated refrigerants. For a list of class I and class II Ozone Depleting Substances, see EPA's list. For a list of acceptable and unacceptable substitutes for regulated refrigerants, see EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy Program (SNAP). Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are ozone-depleting gases. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs) are global warming gases.
- What options does a salvage facility have to meet the refrigerant recovery requirement?
Salvage operations have three options to use to comply with the requirement to recover refrigerants from salvaged equipment.
Option A. Register to recover refrigerants using the company's own certified technicians and recovery equipment. See Registration.
Option B. Register the 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 the business wants 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. Appliance salvage businesses may make the same kind of arrangement with a business that is state-licensed to service refrigerated appliances.
Under this option, the business will submit Form 4500-129a, Subcontractor Information to provide information on the subcontracting company which will recover refrigerants under the businesses registration. See Registration.
Option C. Arrange for a facility that already holds the appropriate DNR registration to recover refrigerants from the equipment the business needs 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 the company keep copies of all the refrigerant recovery records pertaining to equipment the registered company handles. To find registered facilities in the business area, see Facility lists or contact the DNR's refrigerant program coordinator.
- How do business owners or their employees become individually certified for refrigerant recovery?
EPA 40 CFR Part 82.161 Technician Certification regulations (as found in 40 CFR Part 82, Subpart F
EPA technician certification requires 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.
Certifications for both stationary and mobile EPA refrigerant recovery certification programs, listed below, are given for the lifetime of the person who is certified and do not expire. Please note that refrigerant recovery technicians are expected to keep up with current regulations and technology.
EPA 608 Certification for Refrigerant Handling Technicians working with "stationary" refrigeration equipment
Persons recovering refrigerants from "stationary" equipment (whole systems being salvaged, such as home appliances, building chillers and 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 the person will be salvaging. Those salvaging ONLY small appliances (holding less than 5 pounds refrigerant) can become certified through mail-in tests provided by several locations on the EPA's website at: EPA Section 608 Stationary Refrigeration Handling Technicians Certification Programs.
EPA 609 Certification for Refrigerant Handling Technicians working with "mobile" refrigeration equipment
Persons recovering refrigerants from vehicle air conditioners or on-road cooling systems (refrigerated transport) need to have U.S. EPA Section 609 certification. See Motor Vehicle Air Conditioning (MVAC) System Servicing.
Replacing lost Technician Certification cards
Lost certification for Stationary Refrigeration Handling Technicians: See EPA's Steps for Replacing a Lost Section 608 Technician Certification Card.
Lost certification for Vehicle Air-Conditioning Systems: Follow the steps as in above and also see EPA Section 609 Technician Training and Certification Programs. If the name of one of the original certifying organizations is listed, contact them for the certification information.
Lost certifications for both Stationary and Vehicle Refrigerant Handling Technicians: If the above steps were unsuccessful in finding the lost certification, the person may have to retake the certification test or contact the EPA using their contact form to see if the EPA may have a record of the certification in their databases.
- 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 EPA standards. 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 U.S. EPA requirements."
A listing of EPA-approved equipment for recovering refrigerants from stationary air conditioners - Section 608 Approved Equipment.
The EPA listing of equipment approved for recovering refrigerants from motor vehicle air conditioners - Section 609 Approved Equipment.
More detailed information: The EPA has approved both the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to certify recycling and recovery equipment. Lists of certified equipment may be obtained by contacting AHRI at 703-524-8800 and UL at 877-854-3577. The UL database can also be useful – search for the company's name.
- What kind of records do businesses need to keep concerning their refrigerant recovery activities?
Businesses who salvage or dismantle refrigeration equipment must keep certain records for three years and make them available to the DNR on request. The five types of records are as follows.
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 that uniquely identifies each unit of refrigeration equipment salvaged or dismantled. Recording Refrigerant Recovery from Salvaged Items - Suggested Forms
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" the business supplied to whoever receives the equipment for metal recycling or disposal. (See next FAQ)
- How does a business 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 prior to arrival to the 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 the business with a form or letter they have prepared to supply this documentation of refrigerant recovery.
Both the provider and recipient of this documentation must retain the document for three years, or for as long as it is valid.
Scrap processors that recover refrigerants: 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.
- What does it mean to recover, 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 EPA. (Means: purify to original produce standards for resale)
- What can a business do with the used refrigerants recovered 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: (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 three 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. Used refrigerants from MVACs may also be sold to EPA-approved facilities that reclaim the refrigerants to original purity specifications 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 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.
EPA requirements for refrigeration reclamation and disposal:
- What are the penalties for not complying with the Chapter NR 488 regulations?
The DNR can issue a citation of $100 to $1,000 for each action in violation of these provisions, including:
- releasing regulated refrigerants during salvaging, dismantling or hauling equipment;
- not being registered with the 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; and
- not providing documentation of refrigerant recovery to scrap metal processors.
DOT salvager license renewals
Department of Transportation salvage licenses are renewed every two years. State law requires that those seeking DOT salvager licenses must send DOT proof of compliance with state refrigerant recovery laws enforced by the DNR. All license holders need to provide the DOT a copy of either of the following two options.
1. For those that recover refrigerants themselves, a DNR refrigerant salvager/dismantling certificate from the individual's DNR Salvager/Dismantler annual registration. This is for companies/individuals and subcontractors who salvage or dismantle automobiles and use certified technicians and recovery equipment to salvage air-conditioning systems in mobile air conditioners. The DNR's registration and annual fee is $250. 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. Those that do not recover refrigerants themselves likely fall under the "DOT Only" category below.
2. "DOT Only" category: Those who have others recover the refrigerants require a letter from the DNR: "Self-Certification of Compliance with DNR Refrigerant Regulations – CONFIRMATION." DOT Type 2 or Type 4 salvager license renewals are most likely to need this letter from the DNR Refrigerant Recovery Program. This letter is also what should be used for those that do not handle vehicles with refrigerants (e.g., motorcycles).
How to obtain the Form for those in the "DOT Only" category
- Contact information
If the form cannot be downloaded, or for other questions, contact:
- Jeff Myers
Refrigerant Recovery Program Coordinator
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 7921 - AM/7
Madison WI 53707-7921
Note: Any company used to remove refrigerants from refrigeration equipment to be salvaged or dismantled must be registered with the department's salvager/dismantler program. Include the name and nine-digit DNR Facility Identification Number (FID #) for the company used. More than one company may be used by adding the additional companies on the document or attaching another page.
Once the self-certification of compliance is completed, signed and returned to the department's Refrigerant Program, a letter will be sent to the address provided and will need to be included with the DOT Type 2 or 4 Salvager license renewal application. The letter can be sent via email, fax or U.S. mail. Please allow up to 10 business days for processing and return of the self-certification letter.
For more information, visit DOT Salvage dealer license.