Consumption of ozone-depleting substances

In 2020, the EU continued to actively phase out ozone-depleting substances (ODS), in line with its commitment under the Montreal Protocol. Data for 2020 show that consumption of ODS in the EU remained negative (-2,023 metric tonnes), meaning that more substances were destroyed or exported than were produced or imported. The EU's consumption of these substances has been negative since 2012.

For more information and data reported by companies under the Ozone Regulation, see the online ODS data viewer.

Published: ‒ 25min read

In 1989, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer entered into force. Its objective is to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). The protocol covers around 100 individual substances with a high ozone-depleting potential (ODP), including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride (CTC), 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrobromofluorocarbons (HBFCs), bromochloromethane (BCM) and methyl bromide (MB), all of which are referred to as ‘controlled substances’. Within the EU, the use of and trade in substances is regulated by Regulation (EC) No 1005/2009 (known as the Ozone Regulation). The Ozone Regulation is more ambitious than the Montreal Protocol and goes further in many aspects, for instance it has a quicker phase-out schedule, covers more substances and regulates not only substances in bulk, but also those contained in products and equipment.

The EU continues to phase out ODS and is meeting its commitment under the Montreal Protocol. In 2020, the consumption of controlled substances remained negative and amounted to -2,023 metric tonnes, down from -387 metric tonnes in 2019. The consumption of controlled substances, when expressed in metric tonnes, was largely driven by consumption of CTC, HCFCs and CFCs. Expressed in ODP tonnes, consumption in 2020 was also below zero and amounted to -2,043 ODP tonnes, down from 61 ODP tonnes in 2019.

For more information and data reported by companies under the Ozone Regulation, see the online ODS data viewer.

Despite progress, more needs to be done. From 2012, unexpectedly high concentrations of the ODS CFC-11 were detected in the atmosphere, suggesting that its production had resumed illegally. Sources of CFC-11 accounting for 40 to 60 % of the global increase were identified in eastern mainland China, although preliminary data suggest that emissions decreased after 2017, both globally and from China. It will be important to ensure that the illegal trade in ODS is addressed, as this could delay ozone layer recovery significantly.

It will also be important to ensure that international and European legislation is strengthened, for instance by including ODS not covered at present. Evidence suggests that chemicals not covered play a role in depleting the ozone layer, for instance very short-lived substances, such as dichloromethane. Levels of such substances have increased, uncontrolled, by around 60 % in the past decade, which could delay ozone recovery by 30 years. 

Globally, consumption of ODS controlled under the Montreal Protocol declined by 98% worldwide in the period 1986-2019.

However, much remains to be done to ensure that damage to the ozone layer is reverted. Initiatives to further reduce releases of ODS could involve the following:

  • Addressing the strong growth in the production and consumption of HCFCs in developing countries;
  • Collecting and safely disposing of the large quantities of ODS contained in old equipment and buildings (the so-called ODS 'banks');
  • Ensuring that restrictions on ODS continue to be properly implemented and the remaining worldwide use of ODS declines further;
  • Preventing illegal trade in ODS; and
  • Strengthening the international and European framework on ODS (e.g. inclusion of other known ODS, restricting exemptions)

In the EU-27, ODS are still used, to the extent allowed by the Montreal Protocol and the EU ODS Regulation, by means of exemptions to the overall phase out. Exemptions concern 'critical uses', 'feedstock uses', 'process agent uses' and 'laboratory and analytical uses'.

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