India: The challenges of life-cycle refrigerant management

In May 2023, the CEEW published a study examining the current status of refrigerant recovery, recycling, reuse, and destruction in India.

In recent years, India’s refrigerant production has grown, estimated to reach about 75,000 tonnes in 2028, up from 24,300 tonnes in 2018.[1, 2] In comparison, in 2020, the production capacities of China, the world’s largest producer of HFC refrigerants, was more than 238,000 tonnes for R134a, 272,000 tonnes for R32 and 106,000 tonnes for R125.[3] In India, demand for HCFCs and high-GWP HFC refrigerants is expected to decrease by 25–30 per cent, thanks to the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) and the accelerated HCFC phase-out management plan.[2, 3]


A. Garg, S. Kumar and S. Bhasin (2023) examined the current status of the refrigerant recovery, recycling, reuse, and destruction ecosystem in India.[1]

Over the years, India has initiated several refrigerant management projects to limit refrigerant emissions. For instance, the National CFC Consumption Phasing-out Plan (NCCoPP) created training infrastructure in 15 Indian states in order to promote good servicing practices in residential air conditioning servicing enterprises, especially in firms that used over 50 kg of CFCs per year.


About 40% of India’s refrigerant demand comes from the servicing sector. Indeed, due to poor installation and servicing practices, leakages occur. Consequently, the NCCoPP strategy was centred around the training of servicing technicians. The participants were trained on how to handle alternative refrigerants, excellent service methods, and the recovery, recycling, reclamation, and reuse of CFCs. As a result of training in good service techniques, CFC requirements were significantly reduced. These training programmes aided in the creation of a market for recovered and reclaimed refrigerants, and the refilling need for maintenance was met by CFC reclamation and reuse. A total of 955 recovery and recycling units were distributed to servicing enterprises and Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) across the country. In addition, India opened 18 mini-reclamation centres and mobile service units were started to collect CFCs and deliver them to facilities for reclamation.


Unfortunately, in practice, these programmes were not very effective due to the lack of manufacturer initiative, incentive schemes, to logistical difficulties, and the absence of directives or implementation mechanisms to promote a functional reverse supply chain. The authors of the report observed that unless the recovery and recycling tools are subsidised, refrigerant management is neither affordable nor economically feasible for small workshops and servicing technicians.



For more details on barriers and possible measures to alleviate barriers to refrigerant management, read the complete study on the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) website or on FRIDOC.




[1] Garg Aditya, Sonal Kumar, and Shikha Bhasin. 2023. Activating Circular Economy for Sustainable Cooling: Current Status and Barriers to Lifecycle Refrigerant Management in India. New Delhi: Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

[2] India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP).

[3] Yang et al 2022. ICCT. Measures for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Motor Air Conditioning in China.