Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Refrigerated transport and equipment

Refrigeration for food transportation

This guidance is relevant if your road transport business owns and operates refrigerated vehicles and equipment, including:

  • refrigerated trucks and vans
  • refrigerated containers or trailers
  • passenger vehicles, eg cars, buses or coaches
  • cold storage areas at a distribution centre.

Refrigerated vehicles may contain fluorinated gases (F-gases). Older vehicles may contain ozone-depleting substances (ODS). These chemicals can cause significant harm to the environment by damaging the ozone layer and contributing to global warming, and may escape during servicing or at the end of the vehicle or equipment's life.

What must you do

Use fluorinated gases (F-gases) safely

If your refrigerated transport contains F-gases, for example HFC 134a, you must:

  • recover F-gases during servicing, maintenance and at the end of the vehicle or equipment's life
  • use a qualified person to service, repair or dismantle your vehicle or equipment
  • dispose of waste F-gases and equipment correctly.

Ozone depleting substances (ODS)

The use of ODS in refrigeration equipment has been banned since 2015. If your refrigeration equipment contains an ODS, such as a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs like R22), you must use an alternative refrigerant when recharging the system. You must use a qualified person to service, repair or dismantle your vehicle or equipment.  

Use a qualified person to recover your ODS or F-gases

ODS and F-gases must be recovered from refrigerated vehicles and equipment during servicing, repair or dismantling by a suitably qualified person. They could hold one of the following qualifications:

  • City and Guilds Certificate in Handling Refrigerants Scheme 2078
  • Construction Industry Training Board Safe Handling of Refrigerants J01
  • City and Guilds Certificate in mobile air-conditioning systems
  • an appropriate industry qualification.

Meet requirements for your cars and light vans

If you operate cars or light vans with air-conditioning that uses F-gases, you must comply with additional requirements. See our guidance on vehicle air-conditioning systems.

Meet requirements for your distribution centre

If you operate a distribution centre with chill or cold stores or air-conditioning equipment, you must comply with additional requirements. See our guidance on: F-gases in refrigeration and air-conditioning

Good practice

You should use competent specialist contractors to install or decommission refrigeration equipment. Supervise their work to ensure that leaks are prevented and that solutions containing the refrigerant do not enter watercourses or surface water drains.

Establish a regular maintenance and inspection schedule to ensure leaks do not occur.

Buy a vehicle that suits your needs, for example smaller, more fuel efficient temperature controlled vans may be better for delivering within a town.

Ammonia refrigerants are highly toxic. You should never allow them to enter surface water drains, surface waters or groundwater. This causes pollution and you could be prosecuted. If water contaminated with ammonia does enter a surface water drain, surface waters or groundwater, report it immediately to the pollution hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

If contaminated water enters a sewer, you should tell your water or sewerage company or authority immediately.

Further information on ODS and F-gases in refrigerated transport

Ozone depleting substances (ODS) and fluorinated gases (F-gases)


Transfrigoroute, a trade association for hauliers and distributors, provides information and best practice standards on using temperature controlled transport.


Additional resources

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