The British Environmental Research Agency (EIA) has called for the worldwide ban on the use of disposable and non-refillable refrigerant cylinders.
During the 30th Montreal Conference of States Parties in Ecuador, the EIA published a report entitled “The Tip of the Iceberg: The Impact of the Production and Use of Illicit CFC Refrigerants”, introducing the illegal trade in HFCs in Europe and speculating that though it has been completely banned, the illegal trade in ODS substances exist all over the world.
According to the report, a large number of known ODS smuggling cases use disposable steel cylinders. It is because the random discarding of disposable steel cylinders that provides convenience for illegal smuggling.
Since 2007, the use of disposable cylinders has been banned in Europe. Meanwhile, Canada, India and Australia have also imposed bans. EIA said that disposable refrigerant cylinders are still widely used in other parts of the world. Recently, the European market is filled with disposable cylinders containing illegal HFCs.
In addition to dealing with the extra waste generated by disposable cylinders, EIA points out that cylinders are cut or pierced before the scrapping process, so in most cases residual refrigerant is released into the atmosphere. If the cylinder does not enter the normal scrapping process, the residual refrigerant will remain until the cylinder is decomposed and eventually discharged. The EIA quoted the 2010 RTOC assessment report to elaborate that the residual refrigerant vapor is equivalent to about 3% of the nominal cylinder charge of the refrigerant cylinder, while the liquid refrigerant residue is about 5% to 8%.
Due to European F-gas reduction, HFC refrigerant price surges and supply shortage pressure strengthens. European governments and customs are unable to prevent illegal trade in disposable cylinders.
What is really worrying is that if we do not learn from the mistakes of Europe, with the implementation of the Kigali amendment in 2019, the global reduction of refrigerants will lead to large-scale illegal trade activities.