12/07/2018 – News / Environment / CFC / Pollution / Polyurethane Foam / China

New report uncovers illegal CFC-11 production and use in China

In the wake of shocking evidence showing significant and unexplained emissions of the ozone-destroying chemical CFC-11 in the atmosphere, a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals compelling evidence that illegal production and use of CFC-11 in the polyurethane foam sector in China is the cause.


EIA obtained evidence from 18 different companies in 10 Chinese provinces, confirming their use of CFC-11 as a blowing agent for the manufacture of foams utilised to insulate buildings and appliances. 


Detailed discussions with company executives make clear these are not isolated incidents but common practice throughout the industry. Producers and traders of polyurethane foam blowing agent repeatedly told EIA sources that the majority of China’s foam industry continues to use CFC-11 due to its better quality and lower price.


Conversations with traders revealed some companies produced CFC-11 themselves, while others were supplied by factories in undisclosed locations. Several companies also referred to the ease with which CFC-11 could be exported in the pre-blended polyol used to make the foams. 


“A super global warmer”


“If China doesn’t stop this illegal production, it will imperil our slowly healing ozone layer,” said Alexander von Bismarck, EIA US Executive Director. “CFC-11 is also a super global warmer, making this a serious threat for our climate as well. What we’ve uncovered is a systemic problem, not isolated incidents. It requires a comprehensive nationwide intelligence-led investigation and higher penalties throughout the sector that fit the crime.”


EIA released the report – entitled ‘Blowing It’ – in advance of the Open-Ended Working Group of the Montreal Protocol starting today in Vienna (11-14 July), where the issue of the rogue CFC-11 emissions is likely to be high on the agenda. 


“This is an environmental crime on a massive scale,” stressed Clare Perry, EIA UK Climate Campaign Leader. “Steps need to be taken to ensure enforcement and compliance with all the obligations of the Montreal Protocol, including new controls on HFCs. How the Montreal Protocol addresses this issue will determine whether it continues to merit its reputation as the world’s most effective environmental treaty.”

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