It is a widely shared remark that the current system of collection and regeneration of the refrigerant produces extremely disappointing results because it cannot generate value for none of the chain components. The main reason resides in the fact that refrigerants are substances to be disposed, with costs borne by their owners or managers when they take the “status” of waste. The successful examples in the waste exploitation teach us how, to implement a sustainable economic model, it is necessary to understand what are the values “hidden” inside the “waste”. Going back to refrigerants, today I am talking about two models, already interesting if considered singularly, but even more if seen as complementary components inside the project.
Economic model based on the refrigerant recovery and destruction, financed by the sale of CO2 emission offsetting securities
The company was established in 2016 at Elk Grove Village, Illinois (USA) with 6 employees. In 2020 workers had risen to 30, thanks to an average yearly turnover of around 5.0 million USD.
The business model is based on the sale of CO2 emission offsetting securities to companies or private citizens who decide compensating the emissions deriving from their activities. A well-known example of voluntary compensation of emissions is the purchase – total or in the form of shares – of trees for reforestation, in various areas of the globe.
Everyday Tradewater officers get in touch with companies in the USA, Africa and South America to collect refrigerants (CFC and HCFC). Once purchased and recovered, the company proceeds to their destruction, so avoiding they are released in atmosphere. Since 2018, the entire industrial process, which is at the base of the issuance of offsetting securities, is certified by VERRA (ATTENTION LINK https://verra.org/project/vcs-program/registry-system/verified-carbon-units-vcus/), in 2019 joined by American Carbon Registry (ATTENTION LINK https://americancarbonregistry.org/how-it-works/what-we-do)
Economic model based on a voluntary membership scheme for the recovery, regeneration and buy back of the refrigerant
France 1989. Five producers and distributors of refrigerants (Calorie Fluor, Climalife, Crealis, Gazechim and Westfalen), after the coming into force of Montreal Protocol on CFC in 1987, begin to study how to start an efficacious management of the lifecycle (recovery, collection and regeneration) of refrigerants. However, we must wait until 1993 to sign a voluntary agreement, among many of the primary players involved in the use of refrigerants, to start the initiative. The system presently registers the participation of five distributors, several thousand installation and maintenance companies (SNEFCCA), besides all leader manufacturers of refrigeration and conditioning appliances (AFF7).
What is the contribution of each of them?
Distributors are compelled to execute free the following performances:
1. To rent the cylinders (up to 3 months), to be filled with the refrigerant recovered;
2. To regenerate the refrigerant;
3. To destroy the unsuitable refrigerant for the regeneration.
The funding of these activities is assured by an overprice, applied by distributors on each kg. of virgin refrigerant sold to companies (installers and producers), joining the agreement.
Installation/maintenance companies are compelled to recover the refrigerant according to the technical protocol defined and to deliver it to the next collection point, which coincides with the distributor’s store. Together with appliance manufacturers, they are engaged to buy the regenerated refrigerant, to use it in both their installation and production activities. In compliance with market rules, the sale price of the virgin and regenerated refrigerant is fixed, in full autonomy, by each distributor.
What results has this initiative produced? In the 1993-2013 period, about 17,500 tons of refrigerant (worth 44.1 million CO2e8 tons) were recovered, with a yearly collection that in the same period rose by over 10 times. In 1993, refrigeration offered 94% of the refrigerant recovered. Ten years later, chillers, conditioners and heat pumps contribute by 63% of the collection (in weight).