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China says evidence on illegal CFC-11 use is lacking

Concept - China ozone ©signcloud - stock.adobe.com

China says the preliminary findings of its investigation into alleged illegal CFC-11 use in the rigid polyurethane foam industry do not support claims made in a recent NGO report.

China told a working group of the Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances that it had launched an immediate inquiry, following the report of an undercover investigation by the Environmental Investigation Agency. However, this did not support the EIA's conclusions. Their checks included onsite inspections, sample collecting, testing and interviews.

The NGO report says there is widespread illegal production and use of banned CFC-11, or trichlorofluoromethane, by Chinese manufacturers of rigid polyurethane insulation and foam.

But, according to a summary of the working group by Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB), China stressed that it "would not tolerate such accusations based on 'weak data'". It also said more work was needed to collect evidence on, and identify reasons for, recently identified unexpected increases in global CFC-11.

The EIA told Chemical Watch that it has "communicated and met with the Chinese government privately" and is certain the issue will be followed up. But it added that it remains to be seen whether all the recommendations it made would be taken on board.

On 1 August the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) announced it had launched a campaign on enforcement of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs). Enterprises suspected of producing and selling ODSs will be "seriously investigated and punished".

A draft paper, produced by the Montreal Protocol working group, calls for the technology and economy assessment panel to provide information on potential sources of emissions of CFC-11. The paper, which will be considered by a Montreal Protocol meeting in November, also calls for all parties with relevant knowledge to assist in assessments by 1 March 2019.

Plastics industry response

A spokesman for the China Plastics Processing Industry Association (CPPIA) told Chemical Watch that the Chinese government has "ordered a comprehensive inspection" and is conducting ongoing "investigations, studies, analysis and judgments" on alleged illegal CFC-11 use.

He also confirmed that the CPPIA took part in inspections of four enterprises in Dacheng County of Hebei Province, identified by the EIA following the report, and did not find CFC-11.

The spokesman added that the association launched its own initiative in July to get foam enterprises, suppliers and practitioners to boycott illegal blowing agents.

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