SINGAPORE - Mr Toby Ong, director of Vemac Services, a refrigerant reclaiming company, says there are still people disposing of refrigerants by just pouring them away.
To reduce the harm this can do to the environment, Temasek Polytechnic is offering a short course to train technicians.
According to Mr Ong, the amount of refrigerant in an industrial chiller ranges from 300kg to 1,000kg. The typical refrigerant used in industrial chillers, R134a, can release 1,300kg of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilogram of refrigerant.
Large buildings, such as offices and malls, can have between two and 10 chillers.
"This would amount to at least 780 tonnes of CO2 being released into the atmosphere (for a building with two small chillers), if the refrigerants are not disposed of correctly," said Mr Ong.
In comparison, driving a car for a kilometre releases only about 120g of CO2.
An update to the Environmental Protection and Management Bill on Monday (Sept 13) has mandated that all spent refrigerants recovered during refrigeration and air-conditioning servicing and disposal must be sent for proper treatment by licensed toxic industrial waste collectors.
It also mandated that servicing work that involves refrigerant handling and recovery must be supervised or carried out by at least one technician certified in proper handling and recovery.
On Tuesday, Temasek Polytechnic began the first run of its two-day course to certify technicians in the proper handling and recovery of refrigerants.
This course aims to educate technicians on the environmental damage improper handling of refrigerants can cause, different classifications of refrigerants, and legislation around refrigerant handling. It also aims to equip technicians with hands-on expertise to properly handle refrigerants.
The course will be run twice a month, depending on the take-up. Each run will be limited to 15 technicians.
Technicians with at least three years of experience in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry can apply to take the course.
Grants are available for Singaporeans and permanent residents to subsidise up to 90 per cent of the $700 course fees. SkillsFuture Credits can also be used to pay for the course.
Mr Sheikh Hussein Akbar, 31, a senior technical specialist at port operator PSA, who took the course, said it taught him the environmental importance of handling refrigerants properly.
"I will now be able to supervise my contractors on proper disposal practices if need be," he said.
Mr Ram Bhaskar, deputy chief executive officer (environmental protection) and director-general of the National Environment Agency, said in a media release: "This course will raise the industry's competency in handling HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) refrigerants and contribute to Singapore's efforts in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions."
He added: "The programme is an important measure to help Singapore achieve its commitment under the Paris Agreement to peak emissions... around 2030."
The course was officially launched at Temasek Polytechnic on Wednesday.