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Online F-Gas reporting service targets black market crackdown

New encrypted service has been launched to address growing concerns about illegal trade of gas so that fraudulent behaviour be confidentially shared with European authorities

Refrigerant manufacturers group the EFCTC has established a confidential online reporting service to better track illegal refrigerant imports across Europe.

The ‘Integrity Line’ service is intended to ensure that suspicious activity can be reported with greater ease. At the same time, the service operators hope to provide information to local authorities to help support the enforcement of F-Gas regulations that have introduced a phase down of higher GWP refrigerant.

EQS Group will be operating the site on behalf of the EFCTC. Integrity Line is able to provide more specific information on activity such as the smuggling of refrigerant products, as well as possible counterfeiting or use of illegal disposable cylinders that could threaten the EU-wide F-Gas quota system.

A statement on the service said, “To guarantee a whistleblower’s anonymity, the encrypted data is transmitted via a secure and independent EQS server. All reports via the Integrity Line website will remain anonymous unless the whistleblower wishes to disclose their identity.”

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.

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

The organisation said, “Much of this product is being imported outside of the quota system, with a large proportion of it in illegal disposable cylinders. Current estimates are that around 20 per of sales in the EU are suspected of being outside the phase down quota mechanism.”

Despite growing acceptance of the challenges around enforcing black market activity around refrigerant and the “disruptive effect” it has on industry, there was a lack of understanding on who to report suspected illegal activity to, according to the EFCTC.

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