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HCFC stakeholders discuss the future of refrigerants

The quarterly HCFC stakeholder meeting took place on 29 June, bringing together role-players from all over the country to debate critical issues surrounding refrigerants and the phasedowns in South Africa.

HCFC001
HCFC stakeholders discussing the important phase down issues at the meeting in June.

As usual, the meeting took place at the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA)’s head office in Pretoria and it was well-attended by both industry stakeholders and government officials.

Reclamation equipment
There was a lot of debate around the ozone depleting substance (ODS) reclamation equipment that has been sourced by United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and is currently sitting in Europe, waiting to be shipped to South Africa.

Four stations have been ‘donated’ but we cannot yet ship them into the country without setting up the required infrastructure in place. There was also a lot of debate around where each of the machines should be set up in terms of geographical location and a suggestion was made to set up a pilot project first. Some stakeholders were concerned that the equipment would not be used while others raised the point that health and safety could be a big issue and would need to be investigated thoroughly first. Until then, the equipment remains overseas.

141b update
Alan Yeates gave feedback on the R141b project which has virtually come to an end. There was some discussion around quota allocations now that R141b has been discontinued and whether to revise these to accelerate the phase down of the other HCFCs.

Permits
There was a lot of debate about the topic of validity of import permits and allocation. Import permits are to be valid for the year in which issued and can’t be carried over from one year to another. This system has caused complications when reporting to the parties of the Montreal Protocol. In keeping within the proposed phase down targets which have been set in the HPMP for HCFCs. There was a lot of confusion with certain stakeholders seemingly overcomplicating the issue.

Tariff headings
The importance of custom tariff headings for all refrigerants especially all ODSes were again highlighted as this plays a key role in the control and monitoring of importations and the allocation of quotas. The International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) and South African Revenue Services (SARS) were supposed to give feedback but the matter was moved over to the next meeting.

Proper custom tariff headings for all refrigerants are needed to control imports/exports, including headings for pre-charged systems. But this still hasn’t been finalised. It has been proposed but not implemented.

Roadshows
The HCFC Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP) roadshow was brought up again but no further information could be given as there was uncertainty regards to the funding of the roadshow by UNIDO. Meeting chair, Obed Baloyi of the DEA, requested that this matter be urgently addressed.

HFCs
The collection of import data of HFCs was once again brought up. South Africa has yet to ratify the Montreal Protocol in terms of phasing down HFCs as well but the collection of import data is a step to prepare for this inevitable next step. The DEA said that the ratification is a lengthy process and they must make sure that it doesn’t clash with any local and international treaties first.

The feeling is that we should prepare and collect the data. Without the data, it would be difficult to gauge what the possible impact will be on the economy and the industry should SA phase out HFCs.

There is still a concern in terms of funding as the US promised funding for a smooth transition in terms of phasing down HFCs at the Kigali meeting. However, since the change in the political arena, everyone is anticipating challenges on delivering to the promises made before.

The DEA reported that all regulations for HFCs have been put on hold until there is more information on the funding. This will be discussed at the next Meeting of the Parties (MOP) in November in Canada.

Submitting the data
Also, in terms of HPMP, all importers of HCFCs are to submit a detailed annual report in January, detailing all the imports during the previous 12 months. The figures are to be substantiated by documents and will be signed by the CEO of the company to verify the accuracy of the data submitted. Importers who do not comply, will not be given any allocation of quota until the annual reports have been submitted to the National Ozone Unit (NOU).

Actual numbers for usage
There was also feedback on the 2016 and early 2017 numbers for the import and export of HCFCs in the country.

The actual figures – in metric tonnes (Mt) – are as follows, given by the DEA:
HCFC consumption in metric tonnes
2016/2017 HCFC consumption in metric tonnes (Mt).

From the figures reported, South Africa is on target with the projected reductions, such as a 15% reduction of the baseline.

Consumption

With the current usage of R22 and the very small percentage of new systems, figures indicate that South Africa will be well ahead of the target set in the HPMP. Most of the R22 now used is for servicing and maintenance. There has been an intensive change to alternative refrigerants like R404A, R507c and R134a.

There was a suggestion to predefine the percentage of R22 in blended refrigerants and standardising on ODS factors to ensure more accurate reporting of figures.

HPMP
The updated HPMP was supposed to published beginning of 2017 but is still in draft form and the expected date of publication is unknown.

Destruction facility
There was still no clarity on the destruction facility and whether it is being used.

Events
The last point on the agenda was the various upcoming events, including the 39th Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) meeting in Bangkok on which DEA will report during the next meeting. Other points of discussion included Minamata disease (caused by mercury poisoning), world ozone day and the five-week chemicals summit.



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