Everything you need to know about illegal refrigerants

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Why is there an HFCs black market in Europe?

Why is there an HFCs black market in Europe?

HFCs are widely used in refrigerators, air conditioning systems, aerosols and fire extinguishers. Since 2015, Europe has been phasing down their use while suitable alternatives are being developed and deployed.

HFCs represent a small percentage of total greenhouse gases, however most countries in the world have committed to reducing the use of high GWP HFCs to minimise their climate impact. The EU has committed to this phase down through a managed quota system within the F-gas regulation. By 2030, the total HFCs GWP will be reduced by nearly 80% in Europe.

But the quota is being undermined by criminal organisations. They illegally import HFCs into many countries in Europe. This means that more HFCs are being used than allowed by law.

EFCTC estimates that illegal imports represent around a third of the legal market of HFCs. This works directly against the regulation’s climate objective. It also compromises efforts to replace HFCs with better alternatives and undermines the EU’s efforts to become carbon neutral by 2050. According to the EIA, in 2020, there were 59 seizures reported in 12 EU member states. In total, 281 tonnes of refrigerants, with a climate impact equivalent to 700,000 tonnes CO2, were seized. 

To avoid putting our climate goals at risk, we need to eradicate the black market for HFCs.

We achieve this by:

  • Identifying where illegal HFCs come from
  • Understanding who benefits from these illegal imports
  • Upholding the law
  • Supporting those who enforce the law

Report illegal HFCs trading to our Action Line.