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Refrigerant black market costs Chemours $125m

USA: Refrigerant manufacturer Chemours estimates that illegal HFC imports into Europe has cost the company up to $125m in sales this year.

Speaking to the Cooling Post following the publication of the chemical company’s Q3 figures, president and CEO Mark Vergnano confirmed that the illegal trade continued to be an issue.

“These illegal imports continue to come into the EU,” he said. “The way we look at it now we think that they constitute 20-30% of the total volume of the F-gas quota within the EU. So it’s significant. We have said publicly to our investors that it has hurt us, Chemours, to the tune of up to $125m of our earning this year.”

Mark Vergnano: “This is a significant issue that has to be solved in front of the next quota or the next step-down will be worthless”

While the European Commission initially appeared to downplay the extent of the problem, the refrigerant producers through the EFCTC have been working with the EU on enforcement, penalties, trade issues and tax impacts, as well as generally raising awareness of the environmental impact of the black market.

“There’s a lot of enforcement activity going on but we are working with the EU to ramp that up to another level,” said Vergnano. And there have been some notable successes, particularly the recent large seizures in Greece and Poland.

“The environmental impact of this is totally counter to what the EU is trying to put in place with their F-gas regulation. These illegal imports are putting about 20-30million tonnes of CO2e into the atmosphere. So not what the EU wants from an environmental standpoint of being a leader around this, and an area that is hurting many of us who properly and legally operate within the quota.”

According to Vergnano, prevention activities were being targeted on five countries with sea ports – Croatia, Turkey, Greece, Poland and Russia – thought to be the landing point for “significant amounts” of illegal material from China.

“We believe that this can only be solved by stopping it at the port. The only way you’re going to stop this from transmitting across the continent is by stopping it coming into the ports.”

Mark Vergnano confirmed that they had had direct conversations with the European Commission in the last couple of weeks around stepping up the level of enforcement.

“I think the Commission recognise that this is a significant issue that has to be solved in front of the next quota or the next step-down will be worthless,” he said.

Related stories:

Illegal imports continue to impact HFC sales4 November 2019
USA: Illegal imports of HFC refrigerants into the EU are said to have contributed to a 6.7% fall in sales of Chemours’ fluoroproducts business in the third quarter of 2019. Read more…

23 tonnes of illegal HFC seized in Greece12 September 2019
GREECE: Authorities in Greece have seized over 23 tonnes of illegal HFC refrigerant found in a warehouse near Athens. Read more…

Poland seizes over 13 tonnes of quota-busting refrigerant7 September 2019
POLAND: Environmental protection officers in Zielona Góra, western Poland, have reported the seizure of over 1,000 cylinders of quota-busting HFC refrigerant from China. Read more…

Poland stops huge shipment of illegal refrigerant4 April 2019
POLAND: Authorities in Łódź have intercepted a shipment of 25 tonnes of illegal refrigerant with a market value of around €600,000. Read more…

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