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Ozone Layer Protection

FAQ on HCFC Quota Reduction

Q1: What are HCFCs? Why are they a concern to us?

A: Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are one class of chemicals being used to replace CFCs, owing to their comparatively low damaging effect to the ozone layer. Typical example is HCFC-22, which is also known as R-22. It is a common refrigerant found in residential and commercial air-conditioning and refrigeration system. Other HCFCs, such as HCFC-141b, is commonly used as foaming agent or as cleaning agent in industry.

HCFCs are still a concern to us as they contain ozone-destroying chlorine. They serve only as an interim solution to our efforts in restoring the ozone layer. Albeit much less damaging than other ozone depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons, their uses may still give rise to undesirable environmental outcomes as HCFCs releasing from system leaks and industrial operations can still damage our ozone layer.

Q2: Why is there HCFC import quota reduction starting from 2004? Will there be any further reduction afterwards?

A: The reduction of the HCFC import quota starting from 1 January 2004 is set to fulfil HKSAR's obligations under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Under the Montreal Protocol, HKSAR commits to compliance with the developed parties’ requirements on protection of the ozone layer. Accordingly, we have implemented a licensing quota system for HCFCs and would reduce their consumption in a step-wise fashion over time beginning 1 January 2004 to a complete phaseout in 2030. Details of the phaseout schedule is as follows:

HCFC Phaseout Schedule
1 January 1996 Freeze consumption at base level
1 January 2004 35 percent reduction of import for local consumption
1 January 2010 75 percent reduction of import for local consumption
1 January 2015 90 percent reduction of import for local consumption
1 January 2020

100 percent reduction of import for local consumption [1]

[1] May allow 0.5% for servicing in the period 2020-2030. Such need will be reviewed by the Meeting of Parties to Montreal Protocol in 2015

Q3: Will there be any change in allocating the import quota after quota reduction?

A: We would keep the current quota allocation system unchanged after quota reduction unless there is reason to believe that the quota will not be able to meet the demand. Accordingly, the normal quota will still be allocated to past HCFC importers at the beginning of each year based on their retained import performance in the previous year. And, the free quota will still be allocated to all importers on a first-come-first-served basis.

Q4: Will there be any change in the licence application procedure after quota reduction?

A: The current licence application procedure will remain unchanged. Registered companies who wish to import/export HCFCs should apply licences through the Trade and Industry Department. For details of the procedures on application for registration, import and export licences, please refer to the "Guidance Notes for Licence Application" or contact the Trade and Industry Department on 2398 5559.

Q5: What is our HCFC consumption trend in recent years? Would we suffer from insufficient quota for HCFCs after quota reduction?

A: The consumption trend of HCFCs in recent years, together with the quota figures imposed by the Montreal Protocol, are shown in Graph 1.1 below. It appears that many users have already switched to non-ozone-depleting refrigerants and hence the quota usage rates were low: 43% and 48% in 2001 and 2002 respectively. We would, therefore, expect that the reduced quota of 2004 should still be sufficient to satisfy our local demand.
Chart of HCFCs local consumption since 1996

Q6: Given the actual HCFC consumption would still be below the quota limit after reduction in 2004, will the government consider accelerate the phaseout programme?

A: As an international city, HKSAR commits to full compliance with the requirements of the Montreal Protocol. We will continue to keep close monitoring on the local HCFC consumption and the development of the Montreal Protocol to see if there is any need to accelerate the phaseout programme. Before consideration of accelerating the phaseout programme, we will take serious consideration on the actual local HCFC demand and the potential effect on the local business environment. Full trade consultation will also be conducted before we come up with new phaseout programme.

Q7: What should I do if my company has air-conditioning equipment or refrigeration system using HCFC as refrigerants?

A: As the use of HCFCs is only an interim solution, we strongly advise you to develop a long-term management plan for your HCFC air-conditioning and refrigeration system. In the plan, you should take into consideration the following advice:

  1. Make a wise choice when purchasing new air-conditioning and refrigeration system. Air-conditioning and refrigeration system using non-ozone-depleting refrigerants is available in the market. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and HFC blends are common HCFC substitutes with zero ozone depleting potential. The supply of these refrigerants will be guaranteed in the long run.
  2. Consider retrofitting existing HCFC air-conditioning and refrigeration system for use with non-ozone-depleting substitutes.
  3. Maintain proper servicing to your air-conditioning and refrigeration system to avoid leaks of refrigerants. Contain and use refrigerants responsibly by recovering, recycling and proper disposal of at licensed waste disposal facility.

Please consult your service contractors and equipment suppliers for technical advice on various types of equipment and technologies to make the decision that suits your operational requirements.

Q8: Will the use of HCFCs be banned in the future?

A: Yes, they will be banned eventually. According to the current phaseout schedule of the Montreal Protocol, we would not be able to import any more HCFCs by 2030. Owners of equipment using HCFCs should, therefore, be aware that the supply of these refrigerants will be limited in the long run.

Q9: What should I do if I decide to discontinue the use of HCFCs?

A: If you decide to discontinue the use of HCFCs, please consider recycling them or disposing of them at licensed chemical waste disposal facility.

If you would like to recycle them, you should consult your service contractors or equipment suppliers for their professional service. Equipment approved by the Director of Environmental Protection has to be used to recover or recycle the HCFCs. The list of the equipment approved is available on our website and it will be updated from time to time.

If you would like to dispose of them, please note that spent HCFCs are classified as chemical waste under the Waste Disposal (Chemical Waste)(General) Regulation. You should first register with Reginal Offices of the Environmental Protection Department as waste producer, and then engage licensed waste collectors to collect and deliver the waste to the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre at Tsing Yi for disposal. Please refer to the "Guidance Note for Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) - Destruction at the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre (CWTC)" for details about HCFC disposal.

Q10: Where can I get more information about control programme on HCFCs?

A: You may read our ozone layer protection homepage or call us on 2835 1017 or 2835 1085 for additional information about the control programme on HCFCs and other ozone depleting substances.

 

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Friday, 11 February, 2011