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EFCTC warns EU F-Gas reputation at stake from black-market HFCs

Committee has praised recent publication of EIA findings into illegal refrigerant trade for highlighting scale of enforcement work now required

The EU is being urged to decisively tackle fears of rampant illegal refrigerant trading in a number of member states in order to maintain a global lead in climate change mitigation.

The European FluoroCarbons Technical Committee (EFCTC) has argued that recent findings from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) campaign group offered a welcome insight into the scale of a black-market trade that threatens to undermine F-Gas regulation.

Recent findings from the EIA concluded that a range of enforcement changes would be vital to ensure that European efforts to phase out HFC use in cooling are not undermined by a deluge of illegal products entering the EU.

EFCTC chair Nick Campbell said in response to the EIA report that illegal trade of HFC products was a critical issue that threatened a range of environmental, safety and economic ambitions across the EU.

He said, “The European Union is leading the global phase-down of HFCs and must maintain this lead and demonstrate to other countries that the actions it is taking are compatible with maintaining the health and social benefits provided by refrigeration, air-conditioning and insulation industries. Clearly, illegal imports of HFCs undermine this goal.”

Mr Campbell noted that the recent launch of its online ‘Action Line’ service, which provides an encrypted and confidential online reporting function to detail black-market refrigerant, will give a more detailed insight into the scale of a gas trade that does not comply with F-Gas requirements.

He added that this information is intended to be shared with EU authorities to try and aid their enforcement work.

Mr Campbell added, “Much remains to be done to increase the awareness on the consequences on the illegal trade in the user community, for example automotive air conditioning workshops, small to medium size retailers”.

The introduction and subsequent further reductions in quota as part of the F-Gas regulations are intended to push the cooling industry away from a reliance on HFC products towards products with reduced levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the EFCTC recently warned that an increase in price driven by fears over availability of refrigerant in recent years has led to a growth in black market activity.

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