TechNet-21 - Forum

  1. Henok Hailemariam
  2. Supply chain & logistics
  3. Thursday, 20 June 2019

Dear TechNet-21 community,

As most of you know, countries are focusing on the cold chain expansion, but disposal of old & obsolete cold chain equipment are also one of the identified gaps. Due to this fact we are planning to work on it, could you share with us country experience or guideline on the decommissioning of old and obsolete CCE? 



Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

Thank you for the document on “Decommissioning and safe disposal of cold chain equipment”.  This is very useful and will surely assist countries in the decommissioning and safety disposal of their obsolete cold chain equipment.

Here are some observations which may be used to improve the document:

  1. There is no statistics on the number of absorption refrigeration units used in health centers around the world. Based on work experience in underdeveloped and developing countries, EPI activities (since the start of the program) were sustained using absorption refrigerators (kerosene or lp gas fueled systems). With the emergence of new and more efficient technologies, absorption refrigerators were gradually phased out from the immunization system.  The guidance document should include some actions on what to do with these absorption units that are functional but are obsolete. Most of these units are still charged with ammonia, water and hydrogen.  Is it safe to vent or release ammonia gas to the atmosphere or it is safe to bury by encapsulation the entire absorption refrigerator/freezer?  Venting the fluids from the absorption refrigeration system will cause no harm to the environment as ammonia has zero ODP and zero GWP. However, ammonia is very toxic and a health hazard to technicians who handle them.  It is of utmost importance to provide guidance for the proper, safe disposal, and management of risks in handling ammonia gases.
  1. Many old CFC or HCFC refrigerators and freezers are still charged with refrigerant gas but are not efficient and are obsolete thus need to be replaced. Many countries do not have service equipment and trained staff to remove or recover the refrigerant and oil from the refrigeration system. Thus, the need to provide training in good service practices and necessary equipment for recovery and safety of technicians.  Most of the new cold chain equipment are provided by GAVI, UNICEF, WHO and other international organizations.  They could also include some funding for the training and procurement of related service equipment.
  1. Recovered refrigerant, compressor oil and other contaminants from the refrigeration unit have to be kept in a sealed container and have to be disposed of properly to prevent contamination of the environment.An agency who has the capacity to handle these wastes disposal should be designated in every region.WHO, UNICEF, GAVI and other stakeholders may provide financial and technical assistance to these countries in order to protect the environment from ozone depletion and global warming effects.

Hope these are useful.

Alejo H. Bejemino

Cold Chain and Vaccine Management Consultant


  1. more than a month ago
  2. Supply chain & logistics
  3. # 1
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

Hello Henok,

Here is a link to the UNICEF/WHO guidance on Decommissioning and safe disposal of cold chain equipment which was published last year:

It hinges on five core components designed to facilitate a practical, effective, and flexible approach that governments may adopt or adapt in the process of identifying and managing their CCE decommissioning and disposal needs: 
(1) health and environmental considerations, 
(2) reasons for decommissioning and possible alternatives, 
(3) required framework, 
(4) decommissioning plan, and 
(5) technical and safety considerations.

I found that document to be really useful, hope it will help you too. 

Best regards,


  1. more than a month ago
  2. Supply chain & logistics
  3. # 2
  • 1

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