• Chemours
    Examine all refrigerant packaging for an anti-counterfeiting security shrink sleeve.

    HFC Phasedown Highlights Need to Beware of Illegal Refrigerants

    Oct. 10, 2022

    Thanks to a network of responsible influencers, advocates, original equipment manufacturers and end users, the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industry has paved the way for a smooth transition from hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants to the more environmentally friendly hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) refrigerants. Unfortunately, other parties are creating bumps in the road by introducing illegal refrigerants to the market.

    Activities of an illegal nature—initiated by the phase down of HFCs, which started under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act on January 1, 2022—in the U.S. and Canada may increase as the phase down progresses. As the law of economics tells us, as demand for HFCs puts pressure on a
    decreasing supply, prices may rise—opening doors for unethical trades offering “too good to be true” prices for HFC refrigerants.

    The potential for increased illegal activities has two solid foundations. The industry saw an illegal market blossom in the late 1980s, when the Montreal Protocol phased out the production and importation of virgin chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCS)—so we can cite the axiom of history repeating itself. Secondly, we find a “case study” in the European Union, which experienced an influx of black-market HFC imports after implementing HFC phase-down regulations following the 2016 Kigali Amendment and the implementation of F-gas.

     Why you should care

    Risks that come with purchasing illegally imported refrigerants include:

    Safety. Illegal refrigerants may contain unknown flammable contents or
    impurities that create significant safety risks for technicians and customers, plus equipment damage.
  • Fines and penalties. Violation of the AIM Act, including import, distribution, and/or sale of illegally imported HFCs, is subject to federal enforcement and penalties, including confiscation, imprisonment, and fines. See a list of examples of previous EPA enforcement actions.
  • Eroding your bottom line. Legally manufactured and reclaimed HFC refrigerants sold in the U.S. meet AHRI 700 standards to ensure purity and quality. Illegal refrigerants can severely compromise the performance and life of systems, as well as energy efficiency—all of which can negatively impact your customer relationships and repeat business.
  • Defeating the ecoloogical purpose. Illegal imports of HFCs work to slow the adoption of new-generation refrigerants. Chemours estimates that using illegal HFCs has the greenhouse-gas equivalent of putting another 20 million vehicles on the road.
  • What you can do

    First, only purchase refrigerant from a trusted source and be wary of unusual pricing or deals. It’s important to pair this practice with the following:

    • Examine all refrigerant packaging for an anti-counterfeiting security shrink sleeve.
    • Make sure each single-use recyclable cylinder has an Izon® security label.
    • Ensure packaging authenticity by scanning the QR code on the Izon® label or by visiting GenuineRefrigerants.com and entering the seven-digit code on the label.

     Brandon Marshall is North America Marketing Manager, Thermal & Specialized Solutions, The Chemours Company