06.11.2015

Scrapping a fridge

In 1987, the Montreal Protocol was adopted to control and gradually phase out the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances (ODS) such as Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC). These substances are mainly used as refrigerant in cooling systems e.g. refrigeration and air-conditioning appliances or for the production of insulation foams. While the Montreal Protocol is considered to be the most effective environmental treaty to control the production and consumption of ODS, large amounts of ODS are left uncontrolled in existing and abandoned appliances, building so called "ODS banks" for which the Montreal Protocol does not include compliance targets or funding. In some cases, appliances are disposed in landfills without prior and proper recovery of gases or the contained ODS is simply vented into the atmosphere. The potential release into the atmosphere harms both the ozone layer and the climate. The global warming potential of for example the refrigerant HCFC-22 is 1800 times higher than that of carbon dioxide.

The new study "Management and destruction of existing ozone depleting banks" reviewed existing data and management approaches for reachable ODS banks which have global warming potential of roughly 16.8 Gt CO2eq. This is approximately 11 times of all greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector in Germany in 2012. This number highlight the necessity to adequately manage and destroy ODS banks before the gases escape unrestrained into the atmosphere. For this, special expertise and equipment is needed in particular in developing countries and emerging economies. This is exactly where the IKI project "Management and destruction of existing ozone depleting substances in ODS banks" comes into play: Colombia, Ghana, Tunisia and the Dominican Republic are supported in designing and implementing national strategies for ODS banks management and destruction. Furthermore, it aims to stimulate the development of regional and national cooperation around the issue. The ultimate goal is to achieve significant emission reductions from ODS banks.

In late September, national ozone officers and ministry representatives from the partner countries were able to gain insight in Germany on the environmentally sound management and destruction of ODS. The discussions centred on the collection, recycling, recovery and destruction of ODS. The delegation visited a collection point for electronic waste, a refrigerator recycling plant, as well as companies specializing in refrigerant recovery from appliances.

The project is financed with €4.5 mio. from the International Climate Initiative (IKI) by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). It is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).