India chooses environment-friendly path by phasing out ozone-depleting substances

News date: 22 January 2020

India had proactively and successfully taken the challenge of the complete phase-out of Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141 b, which is a chemical used by foam manufacturing enterprises by 1.1.2020. 

India has successfully achieved the complete phase-out of Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141 b, which is a chemical used by foam manufacturing enterprises and one of the most potent ozone-depleting chemicals after Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).(HCFC)-141 b is used mainly as a blowing agent in the production of rigid polyurethane (PU) foams.

India has consciously chosen a path for environment-friendly and energy-efficient technologies while phasing out Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs). Importantly, India is one of the few countries globally and a pioneer in some cases in the use of technologies, which are non-Ozone Depleting and have a low Global Warming Potential (GWP).

India had proactively and successfully taken the challenge of the complete phase-out of Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141 b, which is a chemical used by foam manufacturing enterprises by 1.1.2020. On 31 December 2019, as part of the Government's commitment for moving towards environment-friendly technologies, in a significant first, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) brought out a notification in the Gazette of India through which the issuance of import license for HCFC-141b is prohibited from 1st January 2020 under Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Amendment Rules, 2019 issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

HCFC-141b is not produced in the country and all the domestic requirements are met through imports. With this notification, prohibiting the import of HCFC-141 b, the country has completely phased out the important ozone-depleting chemical. Simultaneously, the use of HCFC-141 b by foam manufacturing industry has also been closed as on 1st January 2020 under the Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Amendment Rules, 2014.

Nearly, 50 % of the consumption of ozone-depleting chemicals in the country was attributable to HCFC-141 b in the foam sector. The Ministry adopted a structured approach to engaging with foam manufacturing enterprises for providing technical and financial assistance in order to transition to non-ODS and low GWP technologies under the HCFC Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP). Around 175 foam manufacturing enterprises have been covered under HPMP out of which, 163 enterprises are covered under stage II of HPMP. The complete phase-out of HCFC 141 b from the country in the foam sector is among the first at this scale in Article 5 parties (developing countries) under the Montreal Protocol. The implementation of HPMP through regulatory and policy actions, implementation of technology conversion projects has removed around 7800 Metric Tonnes of HCFC 141-b from the baseline level of 2009 and 2010 of the country.

The phase-out of HCFC-141b from the country has twin environmental benefits viz. (i) assisting the healing of the stratospheric ozone layer, and (ii) towards the climate change mitigation due to transitioning of foam manufacturing enterprises at this scale under HPMP to low global warming potential alternative technologies.

The polyurethane foam sector has links with important economic sectors related to buildings, cold storages and cold chain infrastructure, automobiles, commercial refrigeration, domestic appliances such as refrigerators, water geysers, Thermo ware, office, and domestic furniture applications, specific high-value niche applications, etc. In India, the foam manufacturing sector is a mix of large, medium and small enterprises having varying capacities, with a preponderance of MSMEs. Many of the MSMEs operate largely in the informal sector.

To ensure minimal dislocation in the sector and for enhancing the capacities of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in converting to low-GWP non-ODS technologies, training and awareness programs on non-ODS and low GWP alternatives to HCFCs including adoption of such alternatives have been organized in close collaboration with Industry and MSMEs will also be facilitated for adequate tie-ups with system houses, laboratories for getting their material tested, etc, in addition to organizing study tours, field visits, etc.

Noting the challenges, the Ozone Cell, MoEF&CC entered into an MOA with the Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology, Department of Chemicals &Petrochemicals to facilitate and hand-holding foam manufacturing enterprises. Transitioning to non HCFC and low GWP alternatives. As part of assistance made available to the enterprises' technology workshops, field trials, on-site demonstration and support, practical hands-on training and product validation is being provided. Already enterprises assisted in stabilizing alternative technologies have been able to move towards the adoption of alternatives at commercial scale.