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Rapid HFC reduction recommended by European Parliament

The European Parliament has recommended a rapid phase-down of HFC to commence within three years together with an accelerated phase-out of HCFCs.

It also said that the current F-Gas regulation has fallen short of expectations and has urged the European Commission to make revisions to improve its effectiveness.

At the same time, a report on HCFC phase-out warns that an already active black-market could greatly increase if left unchecked. Over the past three years seizures of HCFCs have increased, with illegal consignments being intercepted in the US, Asia and Europe.

The report, Risk Assessment of Illegal Trade in HCFCs, jointly produced by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), warns that action should be taken immediately to stop HCFC smuggling in its early stages.

The report explains that many of the techniques that were used for smuggling CFCs have already been adopted in HCFC smuggling; these include:

·        False labelling of HCFCs as legal substances

·        Using the names and/or Customs codes of similar but legal chemicals

·        Selling fake recycled or reclaimed materials

·        HidingHCFCs in ships, cars, or trucks and moved across borders

·        Double layering, with illegal materials hidden behind a layer of legal product

·        Trans-shipment fraud, in which consignments of HCFCs ostensibly destined for legitimate end markets are diverted onto black markets

EIA Campaigns Director Julian Newman, said: “The situation in Europe illustrates how illegal trade can arise as a result of a phase-out. As of January 2010, demand for HCFCs within the EU must be met by using either reclaimed or recycled chemicals; but demand for HCFCs for refrigeration and air conditioning servicing remains higher than legal supplies can satisfy.

“There’s a risk that such demand could undermine the EC ban on importation and use of virgin HCFCs, which came into force at the beginning of 2010. With the cost of HCFC-22 in the EU ranging from 18-30 euros per kilo and the chemical available from developing countries at about 2euros per kilo, excluding shipping, the incentive for smugglers to step in to meet the demand is clear.”

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