Investigation uncovers illegal CFC-11 production and use in China

By agency reporter
July 10, 2018

In the wake of shocking evidence showing significant and unexplained emissions of the ozone-destroying chemical CFC-11 in the atmosphere, the new report Blowing It 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.

“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 is releasing the report in advance of the Open-Ended Working Group of the Montreal Protocol meeting in Vienna from 11-14 July, where the issue of the rogue CFC-11 emissions is likely to be high on the agenda.

Clare Perry, EIA UK Climate Campaign Leader, said: “This is an environmental crime on a massive scale. 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.”

* Read CFC-11 illegal production and use in China: Blowing It here

* The Environmental Investigation Agency investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses https://eia-international.org/

[Ekk/6]

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