A group of German refrigeration experts has called for action after revealing that the amount of illegal refrigerant entering Europe last year was equivalent to 20% of the legal F-gas quota.
In an open letter to the European Commission and national authorities, the so-called Committee of Experts Coolektiv complain that too few controls and measures are in place to prevent the illegal trade.
The Coolektiv was formed in October from a number of concerned parties, including refrigerant products Chemours and Honeywell, refrigeration components association Asercom, German refrigerant suppliers Westfalen and Frigoteam Handels, and retailer Rewe.
Figures produced by Chemours claim that in 2018 around 22.5MtCO2e were illegally imported into the EU – mainly the high GWP refrigerants R134a, R404A and R410A. Official figures for 2018 have not yet been released, but it is thought that the European market again stayed within its official quota, despite the large phase down cut to 115.29MtCO2e. Chemours estimates, if correct, suggest that this was only possible thanks to a substantial unchecked illegal trade.
“Far too few checks are carried out to prevent illegal refrigerant imports into the European Union,” said Westfalen product manager Hans-Jürgen Kemler. He called for the “inadequate” controls at the EU borders to be tightened and for political support to halt the imports as soon as possible.
The Coolektiv also expresses fears that the illegal products are contaminated and could put users at risk. Referring to the explosions and deaths due to contaminated R134a in 2011, the Coolektiv said: “Such accidents, followed by material and personal injury can not be ruled out in the current situation.”
It also points out that the use of refrigerants outside of specification will have a negative effect on system efficiency.