Everything you need to know about illegal refrigerants

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The real impact of HFC smuggling

For criminals, HFC smuggling can be both lucrative and easy.

They are not primarily producers of HFCs. Purchasing HFCs where it is considered legal and then smuggling them into the EU is all they need to do. 

Illegal HFC smugglers are able to do this with the knowledge that customs is often under-resourced and stretched in their pursuit for arms, counterfeit goods and human trafficking. 

When demand remains high, quotas that limit supply always result in an initial increase in cost. 

Traders often look at ways to cut time and costs and purchasing lower cost HFCs is an attractive proposition. But what they often do not know is where the HFCs come from. This can be dangerous as there is no guarantee that the gas is fit for purpose, or even safe to use.

What really happens when they buy black market HFCs?

Smuggled HFCs finance activities of criminal organisations which are frequently involved in smuggling arms, drugs and people. Profits made from HFC smuggling can often fund other dangerous and violent operations.

Based on data analysis by Oxera Consulting LLP, EFCTC estimates that up to 31 million CO2eqT were illegally imported into the EU in 2019. This is around one third of the legal quota in 2019.

So, this is a serious, and very large problem for planet and for people. HFC smuggling is not a minor offence. It spurs crime and destroys our climate.

There is more and more awareness of the illegal trade of HFCs and its impact on Europe’s climate goals. Industry and authorities are taking steps to address it, but we must continue working together to eradicate illegally traded HFCs gases.