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Mexichem launches illegal refrigerant awareness campaign

Manufacturer hopes to raise awareness of threats to industry from illegal refrigerant products in line with broader industry efforts to crackdown on black-market HFCs

Mexichem aims to support the work of European Fluorocarbons Technical Committee (EFCTC) in raising awareness around the illegal trade of refrigerant across the EU.

The refrigerant manufacturer said it was launching a campaign focused on industry fears that a phase down of HFCs was being undermined by criminals who were introducing illegal imports of refrigerant outside of a quota introduced under EU F-Gas regulation.

Mexichem said the campaign is intended to support the aims of the EFCTC to highlight the illegal trade of gas. According to the manufacturer, illegal imports were estimated to be equivalent of up to 20 per cent of the existing quota set out under F-Gas regulation. This quota, which is being gradually reduced over a number of years, is intended to limit greenhouse gas emissions from member states.

Signs that can help identify if refrigerant is illegal could include a product with an unknown brand name or lacking a quality certificate or safety data sheet (SDS), according to Mexichem. The group also warned about refrigerant being supplied without a cylinder return process or at an unusually low price.

A statement from the company said, “The penalties for usage of illegal HFC product include fines, criminal prosecution, damage to equipment and a long-lasting impact on any participating company’s reputation, not to mention potential injury, or even fatality, to users.”

“The EFCTC’s programme to fight these imports includes an action line which allows individuals to report alleged suspect HFC offerings confidentially to a trusted and independent contractor. It is hoped that this programme will enable authorities access to a more detailed picture of the supply chain.”

Organisations from across the cooling sector have raised fears about potentially rampant trading of illegal refrigerant in a number of EU member states. Better enforcement of F-Gas quotas therefore remains a key issue for the European cooling industry, with additional restrictions set to be introduced to the market from January 2020 that will include outright bans on use of R404A and R507 in certain applications.

The EFCTC said in April that findings from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) campaign group highlighted the broad scale of the black-market trade of HFCs that threatened a range of environmental, safety and economic ambitions across the EU.

EFCTC chair Nick Campbell 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.”

The EIA’s findings concluded at the time that a range of enforcement changes would be vital to ensure that European efforts to phase out HFC use in cooling are not undermined.

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