B.C. Air Quality

What Governments are Doing about Ozone Depletion

194 nations, including Canada, have signed an international agreement to end the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons and other ozone-depleting substances (ODS). The agreement is called the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987). The protocol has been amended several times, to speed up ODS phaseout dates and to include more types of ODS. 

The federal and provincial/territorial governments share responsibility for protecting the ozone layer. Under the Montreal Protocol, the federal government is responsible for controlling the import, manufacture, use, sale and export  of ODS. To meet these requirements, Canada has established:

For more information, see Environment Canada's Stratospheric Ozone website.

The provincial/territorial governments manage the use and handling of ODS. The B.C. Government passed the Ozone Depleting Substances Regulation in 1993 to control ODS stored in products and equipment, and encourage consumers and industry to use more environmentally safe alternatives.

In Schedule A of the regulation, Class I lists all CFCs and halons, as well as methyl chloroform and carbon tetrachloride. Class I substances are considered to have the most significant impact on ozone layer depletion. Class II of Schedule A lists all hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are considered the “transitional” substances or alternatives to Class I substances. Both Class I and Class II are ozone-depleting substances.

The regulation was amended in November 1999, mainly to include other halocarbons as Class III substances — e.g., hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs). The Class III substances do not contain chlorine or bromine atoms, so they don't deplete the ozone layer. However, they are considered potent greenhouse gases and have a significant global warming potential (GWP).

The amendments in 1999 also strengthened certain requirements, and the regulation was renamed the Ozone Depleting Substances and Other Halocarbons Regulation. The regulation was amended again in 2004, largely to implement Canada’s National Action Plan, which includes phaseout dates for Class I substances (Section 27 of the regulation). 

These amendments also included additional CFC-refill restrictions for the mobile and commercial refrigeration sectors, refill restrictions for halon fire extinguishers and revised seller take-back provisions for surplus CFC refrigerators. For more information and to download a copy of the regulation, see Amendments to the Ozone Depleting Substances and Other Halocarbons Regulation.

To make sure ODS are recovered correctly, technicians working with these chemicals must be an “approved person” as defined in the regulation. This includes having successfully completed an ODS environmental-awareness course approved by Environment Canada and the ministry. Technicians must also follow the procedures detailed in Environment Canada’s Environmental Code of Practice for Elimination of Fluorocarbon Emissions from Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Systems (PDF: 61 pages) and the Environmental Code of Practice for Halons.

B.C. no longer allows the recharging of a motor vehicle air conditioner (MVAC) with any Class I substance, e.g., CFC-12, the common refrigerant in older air conditioners. When vehicles are scrapped or their air conditioners are repaired, the ODS must be recovered safely, with no leaks. A Class II, III or other alternative substance must be used as the replacement refrigerant. Anyone servicing an MVAC system must have successfully completed an MVAC servicing-and-retrofitting course approved by the Ministry of Environment.

To learn more about ozone depletion, see:

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