F-gases Regulation

Whilst the major greenhouse gas (GHG) is carbon dioxide (CO2), the basket of greenhouse gases controlled by the Kyoto Protocol includes, among others, the so-called F-Gases: HydroFluoroCarbons (HFCs), PerFluoroCarbons (PFCs) and Sulphur hexaFluoride (SF6).

The objective of the F-Gases II Regulation (EC) No 517/2014 is to reduce emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol, helping the EU and the Member States to meet their objectives through:

– Better containment and recovery
– Training and certification of personnel involved
– Reporting of production
– Import and export data
– Labelling of certain products and equipment containing those gases and for some applications and uses where containment and recovery is impracticable
– The prohibition of marketing and use respectively

In 1989, the European aerosol industry voluntarily ceased the use of ChloroFluoroCarbons (CFCs) which have both Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) and Global Warming Potential (GWP). Thus, it no longer contributes to the creation of the so-called ‘ozone hole’.

Additionally, the aerosol industry has decreased its greenhouse impact related to Climate Change by 99% compared to the period prior to 1989 (yet, this goes unrecognised in the Kyoto Protocol which uses 1990 as a reference year).

Today, the aerosol industry has primarily shifted to flammable liquefied propellants (hydrocarbons and dimethyl ether) but still uses HydroFluoroCarbons (HFCs), specifically non-flammable liquefied propellant HFC-134a, for a small range of products.

These third-generation fluorinated gases do not deplete the stratospheric ozone layer but remain greenhouse gases. Currently, the only widely available liquefied propellant which is non-flammable is HFC-134a.

In 2002, FEA introduced a Code of Practice on HFC Use in Aerosols which voluntarily restricts the use of HFCs where there are no other safe, practical, economic or environmentally acceptable alternatives. The voluntary Code of Practice continues to supplement the F-gases II Regulation.

Based on the FEA voluntary survey (which does not include PU foams and pharmaceutical aerosols), the total consumption of HFCs for aerosols has decreased by 75% between 2002 and 2011 and represents less than 0.1% of total EU-28 greenhouse gas emissions in 2011. FEA has stopped its voluntary monitoring because the F-gases II Regulation requires a mandatory reporting.

A fourth generation of fluorinated products with lower GWP has emerged, the HydroFluoroOlefins (HFO). From research programmes, non-flammable liquefied gas HFO-1234ze, with a very low Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 7, has successfully been used as propellant in certain aerosol applications.

Despite this excellent record of voluntary accomplishment, the F-gases II Regulation now imposes:
– a new labelling requirement,
– a new reporting requirement, and
– a new restriction on technical aerosols.

At international level, the Kigali Agreement under the Montreal Protocol has been adopted to phase down the emissions of HydroFluoroCarbons (HFCs) on a global scale.