Everything you need to know about illegal refrigerants


What’s the problem?

HFCs – short for Hydrofluorocarbons – are used in refrigeration, air conditioning systems, as blowing agents in sprays, foams and insulating materials and as fire extinguishing agents. They are highly effective and energy efficient refrigerants.

Due to the high global warming potential (GWP) of some HFC refrigerants, their consumption is being phased down. In Europe, this phase down is managed with quotas that promote a gradual shift to lower GWP alternatives.

These quotas are circumnavigated by criminal organisations, who make vast profits on the black market by smuggling large amounts of refrigerant gases into countries across Europe. And by doing this, they also increase the amount of high GWP HFCs being circulated in Europe.

Recently, thanks to efforts by the HFCs value chain, EFCTC, the wider refrigerant industry and authorities, effective steps have been taken to tackle this problem. However, more work needs to be done.

What needs to happen now?

With some member states in Europe taking strong measures to tackle the illegal trade, there is a risk that criminals will find different routes and new ways to circumvent the law.

To avoid this, EFCTC calls for the following:

Enforce the law

Tighter enforcement in EU member states works to deter criminals.

Check out the ‘Enforcement’ page to see where countries are gaining ground on criminals and illegal HFCs are being seized.

Check supply chains

The more people know about this issue in the value chain, the better. Collaborate, inform, and bring solutions.

To learn more about what others like you are doing to win the fight and to show your commitment to others, you can sign up to our Pledge.

Trace criminal activity

The first step to stop criminals is to make sure they have no place to hide. For that the value chain and the enforcement community can be equally vigilant.

Report suspicious activity to the EFCTC Action Line.

Let’s work together and take action.
Let’s eradicate the HFCs black market.


What’s already been done?

Step by step, Europe is locking the door on criminals who try to import HFCs illegally into the EU.

Do we need HFCs?

Action Line

Help stop HFC smuggling

If you have knowledge of, or see, any suspicious or illegal trading activity, report it. We will protect your anonymity and take the necessary steps to investigate.

Use the anonymous European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) Fraud Notification System to report illicit HFC activity.

For further information and advice,
get in touch.