Towards a low emissions future


Refrigerants Australia Executive Director from 1987 to 2014 Stephen Anderson, has been honoured in the 2019 Australia Day Awards.

He has received the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia, for his services to the air conditioning and refrigeration industry through the development of environmental policy.

Stephen was recognised as the initiator of the now well established ARCtick program and was also heavily involved with the establishment of the award winning Refrigerant Reclaim Australia program.

From 1989 to when he retired in 2014, Steve was the catalyst for innovation in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry.

He positioned the industry to work collaboratively with Government and to take necessary steps – typically at significant cost and risk – to deliver improved environmental outcomes. 

The results of these efforts are both astonishing and substantive. They included:

  • Effective transition away from ozone depleting substances resulting in the ozone hole beginning to close, with it expected to be healthy by 2050.
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the early 1990s to today of over 90%, and with further reform he initiated a reduction of another 90% between 2018 and 2036. This represents a reduction of 99% over 45 years.
  • Improvements in energy efficiency by 60% over the past twenty years.

Steve achieved these outcomes in two ways.  He worked closely with the Commonwealth to reach agreement on phase-out schedules that pushed industry to move away from substances that had negative impacts on ozone or climate change. He also worked with the industry he represented to be flexible and to push themselves to accept change. These efforts can be seen in the initial passage of the Ozone Protection Act in 1989 and its major revisions in 2004 and in 2017.

The second element of Steve’s genius was to convince the industry to develop and invest in innovative programs that deliver substantive environmental benefits. 

This includes Refrigerant Reclaim Australia, which is an industry funded program that collects and destroys used refrigerants. RRA was the first of these types of programs globally and remains among the most effective anywhere. 

Its operations have prevented the equivalent of 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere and has saved more than 10 million tonnes of stratospheric ozone. 

The second program Steve helped initiate was ARCtick. This initiative certified those tradespeople who could demonstrate that they were suitably trained. ARCtick clearly demonstrated environmental benefit and the Commonwealth made it a mandatory license program in 2004. 

Congratulations Steve from all at Refrigerants Australia.