Refrigerant Reclaim Australia is celebrating 35 years since the Montreal Protocol helped reverse the depletion of the planet’s ozone layer.

As everyone in HVAC&R already knows, Wednesday 16 September – today – is World Ozone Day, which is basically Christmas for the climate control industry.

Established 35 years ago at the Vienna Convention, World Ozone Day is a symbolic reminder that governments, consumers and industry members can solve critical environmental issues.

Designated by the United Nations in 2000, the day marks the commemoration of the date, in 1987, on which nations signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. That agreement stands as one of the most successful global environmental policies of all time, and serves as proof that consensus on life-and-death issues on a planetary scale is, in fact, possible.

RRA general manager Kylie Farrelley
RRA general manager Kylie Farrelley

Here in Australia, it's Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA), backed by the diligence of Australia’s refrigeration and air-conditioning community, that has done much of the heavy lifting, preserving more than 10 million tonnes of stratospheric ozone – enough to fill 1.4 million Isotanks which, if placed end to end, would stretch from Brisbane to Perth and back.

“RRA is uniquely positioned to help our industry with other forms of emissions’ abatement,” said general manager Kylie Farrelley. “Through developing new programs, helping with improved education and training and developing a deeper understanding of the needs of our industry, RRA aims to continue to deliver better environmental outcomes.”

While it would be incorrect to say that the depletion of the ozone layer has repaired, it certainly has healed since the crisis was discovered in the 1980s. Caused by chlorofluorocarbons in aerosols, the ozone’s depletion has been slowed, if not reversed, thanks to the efforts of industry bodies such as RRA. Since its inception in 1992, Refrigerant Reclaim has prevented the emission of 14 million tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by driving 71 billion kilometres in a passenger vehicle.

In 2019, unusual upper atmospheric conditions led to the smallest Antarctic ozone hole observed since 1982, according to satellite data from NASA and NOAA. The hole is steadily getting smaller and the Antarctic ozone is expected to recover to 1980 levels by 2070.

This reduction is a direct result of the successful worldwide phase-out of CFCs under the Montreal Protocol, and has been made even more effective through the collective efforts of the refrigeration and air-conditioning industry.

Farrelley believes that Refrigerant Reclaim Australia will continue to be at the leading edge of atmospheric protection. “By continuing to improve equipment design and installation processes to dramatically reduce leakage, and by safely recovering contaminated and unwanted refrigerants for destruction, RRA will continue to lead the world in this space.”


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