CFC Manufacturers in India Increase Efforts To Save Ozone Layer

CFC Manufacturers in India Increase Efforts To Save Ozone Layer

The Indian government and the United Nations Environment Program have launched a new initiative aimed at accelerating the phase-out of ozone-damaging chemicals across India, which includes a pledge by the country’s top four manufacturers of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to introduce cleaner production technologies.

Chemplast Sanmar, Gujarat Fluorochemicals, Mafatlal Industries, and SRF Ltd. have agreed to introduce pollution-prevention technologies at their manufacturing facilities. Under the Montreal Protocol, these companies are scheduled to reach zero production of CFCs -- which are primarily used in refrigerators, air conditioning units, and aerosols -- by 2010. The new initiative is aimed at reducing ozone-damaging pollutants associated with manufacturing while the CFC plants are still in operation. It is supported by the UNEP's OzonAction Unit, its Cleaner Production Unit, and India's National Cleaner Production Center.

According to the UNEP, India is the second largest manufacturer of CFCs after China. In 1998, the four Indian companies accounted for 16% of the world production of CFCs.

The companies are also backing a nationwide public awareness scheme targeted at the thousand of small- and medium-sized companies that are part of the CFC supply chain, including refrigerator manufacturers and repairers, suppliers of air conditioning units, and users of products that contain the ozone-depleting chemicals. According to the UNEP, raising awareness among suppliers and users will also go a long way towards reducing India's releases of CFCs, preparing companies and organizations for the final phase-out of the chemicals in eight years.

"India,has already made great strides in reducing and phasing out these damaging substances whose production and consumption harm the stratospheric ozone layer," said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s executive director. “The commitments made today go even further.”

In 1999, India was granted $82 million to assist in the phase-out of the chemicals under the terms of the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty drawn up in 1987 to cut the levels of ozone-depleting substances entering the upper atmosphere.

The UNEP's Energy and OzonAction Unit said that it hopes India's voluntary pledge initiative will spur on other developing countries to adopt similar, ozone-friendly schemes. The agency said it also hopes the initiative will help in combating the smuggling of CFCs across south and south-east Asia.