European countries are at the forefront of efforts to reduce the use of industrial refrigerants that harm the ozone layer and lead to global warming. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, called for phasing out the use of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) like Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
The European Union (EU) and its Member States have embraced this effort and established new regulations and mandates that go beyond the requirements of the Montreal Protocol. In 2006, The European Union adopted legislation, F-gas Regulation, to reduce the use of HCFCs and replace their use with other environmentally friendly alternatives. This legislation also included restrictions on marketing these substances and the use of certain equipment requiring HCFCs. By 2010, the EU had reduced its consumption of the main ozone-depleting substances to zero, 10 years ahead of its obligation under the Montreal Protocol.
Tighter F-gas regulations
In 2012, the European Commission proposed a revision to the 2006 F-gas Regulation to tighten its requirements. The new Regulation adopted in April 2014 aims to reduce HCFC use by two-thirds by 2030 and ban use altogether when environmentally-friendly alternatives are readily available. This aggressive approach to eradicating ozone-depleting substances is further proof of the EU’s commitment to leading this international effort.
While legislation has driven the conversion to natural refrigerants, many companies are making this choice proactively as sustainability ranks high among European corporate responsibility initiatives. Many industrial refrigeration users have made the move to safer alternatives, opting for ammonia, CO2 and hydrocarbons.
Europe’s commitment to reducing the use of these harmful gases has gone beyond simply eliminating their use, but has resulted in a push for the development of new technological innovations and alternative technologies. Some of the achievements thus far include:
– A vast majority of supermarkets across Europe have installed CO2 refrigeration systems
– Many predict that by 2020, market share of industrial refrigeration systems using natural refrigerants could top 20 percent
– Denmark already has a market penetration rate of close to 100 percent for facilities using natural refrigerants
– Nestlé recently announced that the company will only use natural refrigerants in its commercial freezers in Europe
– A recent research study revealed that three in five (63.6 percent) of food retailers in Europe are utilizing natural refrigerants
Many European companies are asking for political support to bring their innovative natural refrigerant-based solutions faster to market. Others are calling for new regulations that accelerate phase-out schedules, while some call for implementing taxes and financial incentives to accelerate the adopting of natural refrigerants.
U.S. companies doing business in Europe, such as Nestlé, are already making widespread changes based on the EU’s more stringent regulatory requirements. The insights gleaned from those experiences in Europe will certainly have an impact on when and how U.S. companies will begin a more aggressive transition to natural refrigerants.
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