Policy Background on ODS/Refrigerants

Production of ozone depleting substances is controlled under the Montreal Protocol, which brought together scientists, governments, businesses, and the public to address the urgent environmental problem of ozone depletion.  Ratified by 195 countries in 1987, the Protocol has cut production of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and other ozone depleting substances by 98% from historic levels, putting the earth’s protective ozone layer on a path to recovery by the end of the 21st century.

While the Protocol eliminated production of these chemicals, it does not control their emissions. Individual countries have imposed different types of controls on ODS emissions during use and end-of-life, and many – including the U.S. – prohibit intentional venting and require safe handling and recycling.

Despite the Protocol’s success, large quantities of CFC refrigerants – produced prior to their phase-out deadlines – remain in legal use in equipment, products, building infrastructure, and other inventories all over the world.   They pose a continued threat not only to the ozone layer but to the climate system as well.

Replacements to CFCs – HCFCs and HFCs – are also potent greenhouse gases, and have become the mainstay of booming demand for air conditioning and refrigeration in developing countries.  Under business-as-usual, these refrigerants will eventually be emitted into the atmosphere, effectively cancelling out other climate protection efforts taking place around the world.  Absent financial or other incentives, efforts to recover phased-our refrigerant inventories would be minimal, at best.

Increasing international attention is now focused on this urgent problem.  The U.S. and other G-8 leaders have committed to comprehensive action on HFCs, the fastest-growing climate pollutant in the U.S., as the Montreal Protocol continues to debate a production phasedown of HFCs. The EU has proposed a number of restrictions on HFC refrigerants in specific applications.  At the same time, demand is growing for low-GWP refrigerants, with a number of industry leaders committing to transition to more environmentally-friendly alternatives.  New regulations and market developments are expected, adding to the complexity of this global challenge.

It is against this backdrop that EOS is pioneering new economic and environmental incentives, with a goal of revolutionizing management of refrigerants throughout their life cycle.