The manufacture, import and export of ozone depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases is controlled under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989. A Used Substances Licence is required to import or export used ozone depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases.
The Department considers each application on its merits. Factors to be considered include:
- Is the application consistent with Australia’s international obligations including under the Montreal Protocol, Paris Agreement, Kyoto Protocol and Basel Convention?
- Is the application consistent with Australian policy to phase out ozone depleting substances, phase down HFCs and reduce synthetic greenhouse gas emissions?
- Has the national ozone unit of the exporting / importing country agreed to the export / import?
The following used substance uses are consistent with Australian policy and international obligations:
- Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) – import and export for any purpose.
- Destruction – import and export for destruction using an approved destruction technology / facility.
- Halon – import and export of halon for essential uses.
- Halon – import and export for destruction where the halon is too contaminated for reprocessing.
- Import for reprocessing and subsequent export for re-use.
The Department has previously approved licences for:
- Export used or recycled scheduled substances for destruction using an approved destruction technology.
- Import used or recycled scheduled substances for destruction using an approved destruction technology.
- Export used or recycled halon for re-use.
- Import used or recycled halon for re-use in Australia.
- Import used scheduled substances for reprocessing and re-export.
- Import of used scheduled substances and subsequent re-export of the same import.
The Department has previously rejected an application for a Used Substances Licence to import used HCFCs for re-use in the Australian market.
No restrictions have applied to the import or export of used sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) or nitrogen trifluoride (NF3). The Montreal Protocol, Paris Agreement, Kyoto Protocol and the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 do not restrict their use either as used or new substances.
Australia is a signatory to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and has obligations to phase out or phase down the manufacture, import and export of certain chemicals. Australia’s phase out of ozone depleting substances is almost complete, while the phase down of imports of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) commenced in Australia from 1 January 2018. Australia is also a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement, which includes synthetic greenhouse gases.
International obligations are given effect in Australia by the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 (the Act). The Act requires a Used Substances licence to be held for all import and export of used ozone depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases. The requirement for synthetic greenhouse gases commenced from 1 August 2017, to streamline the treatment of all used substances and to support the HFC phase down.
General considerations in deciding Used Substance Licence applications
General considerations include:
- Do the used chemicals meet purity standards?
- If they do not meet purity standards are there arrangements to reprocess to specification?
- Will availability of used substances reduce the incentive to replace older equipment?
- Will the availability of used substances delay Australia’s phase out or phase down of these chemicals by increasing the total quantity in the Australian economy?
- Can it be verified that the imported chemicals are used chemicals, and not new chemicals resulting from illegal trade?
- Will the import / export delay the phase out schedule of the country of origin / destination?
The proposed import or export should align with the importing / exporting country’s ozone protection and synthetic greenhouse gas policy. However, applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Scenarios and guidance approach
Six scenarios are considered in the guidance:
- Import and export of used ozone depleting substances and HFCs for destruction.
- Import and export of halon for destruction.
- Import and export of halon for re-use.
- The import of used ozone depleting substances and HFCs and subsequent re-export for use.
- Export of used ozone depleting substances and HFCs for reuse.
- The import of used ozone depleting substances and HFCs for re-use in Australia.
Scenarios 1 to 5 are generally consistent with Australia’s international obligations and policies to manage the phase out of ozone depleting substances and phase down of HFCs.
The recycling of halon for reuse in Australia or overseas is preferred to destruction and is in line with the Montreal Protocol’s Halon Technical Options Committee (HTOC) recommendation and Montreal Protocol decision that that due to the continued global demand for halons, destruction of halon should be considered only if the halons are cross-contaminated and cannot be reclaimed to an acceptable level of purity. Australia does not destroy used halon where it can be re-used, there is still demand for essential uses, it is cost effective to store the halon or where the halon can be exported for re-use. The Montreal Protocol also encourages Parties to consider removing barriers on the import and export of recovered, recycled or reclaimed halons. This is to allow their free movement to areas where they are required.
In all circumstances the import or export also needs to be consistent with the policies of the counterpart country. Advice would need to be sought on a case by case basis from the national ozone unit of the counterpart country.
Scenario 6, the import of used substances, particularly CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs for re-use in Australia to supplement supplies could be contrary to Australia’s phase out and phase down of these chemicals:
- There is no demand for CFCs as equipment has largely been replaced since the phase out of manufacture and imports in 1996.
- There is no evidence that there are insufficient HCFCs available to meet servicing requirements.
- Australia’s HCFC phase out from 1996 to 2030 gave industry a long lead time to move to alternatives.
- Supplies of HCFCs recovered from equipment in Australia are available.
- ‘Drop-in’ replacements are available for existing equipment.
- Australian HCFC suppliers agreed to the phase out schedule in the early 1990s and are unlikely to have a consensus view that additional supplies are required.
There is no evidence that there are insufficient HFCs available to meet requirements. This situation is unlikely to change in the near future as supply is projected to match demand.