Regulations in the transport refrigeration sector are mainly concerned with food safety and hygiene.
On the international level, the Agreement on the International Carriage of Perishable Foodstuffs and on the Special Equipment to be Used for Such Carriage (ATP) provides a multi-lateral framework for overland cross-border carriage of perishable foodstuffs. The ATP does not affect the refrigerated transport within country borders. However, most signatory countries have national regulations or industry standards that are very similar or based on the ATP agreement.
The ATP agreement gives minimum requirements for the insulation of refrigerated vehicles and the cooling capacity of refrigeration systems. Both insulation and refrigeration system need to match the size and use of the vehicles and each other.
Most countries have included rules about the transport of perishable goods in their regulation about food safety and hygiene. Examples are temperature requirements for different foodstuffs during transport or the directive to follow the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principle. HACCP includes a systematic preventive approach to food safety.
Transport refrigeration is included in the revised EU F-Gas regulation (No. 517/2014). There are requirements regarding the reporting and regular leak checking for units where the amount of refrigerant multiplied with the GWP results in more than 5 kg CO2eq. An example is an R-404A unit with a charge size of 1.3 kg or more.
Of immediate importance is also the phase-down of refrigerant emissions based on the GWP. High-GWP refrigerants are expected to become considerably more expensive. The refrigerant mainly used in transport refrigeration is R-404A. It has a GWP of 3,922 and therefore becomes a considerable liability. Companies producing these units for the global market are expected to develop new models using lower- GWP or low-GWP refrigerants in the near future. The preferred short-term solution is the drop-in refrigerant R-452a with a GWP of 2,141. Natural refrigerant solutions are in development. Because of their relatively small charge sizes, transport refrigeration units will not be affected by the servicing and maintenance ban for refrigerants with GWPs higher than 2,500.