Earlier this year, reports emerged of a “mysterious” rise in CFC-11 (trichlorofluoromethane) quantities in the atmosphere. This was surprising, because CFCs had been phased out by the Montreal Protocol due to their harmful effect on the ozone layer, and were thought to be virtually extinct.
Now, a new report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has evidence that 18 companies in China are using CFC-11 in the polyurethane (PU) foam insulation sector.
According to the report, most of the companies indicated they used CFC-11 in the majority of their production (between 70–100 per cent). They claimed to use CFC-11 because it was cheaper and made better foams.
CFC-11 used to be a commonly used refrigerant, before it was discovered to have a high global warming potential and to be depleting the ozone layer.
It has been phased out since 2010 under the Montreal Protocol, with the majority of countries reporting close to zero production since 2006.
Companies involved in the illegal production, sales or consumption of CFC-11 can face fines between CNY$5,000 (*AU$1,010) to CYN$1 million (*AU$202,165).
* Based on currency conversions at time of writing.