Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje today said that the government is set to freeze the importation of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), a group of ozone depleting substances (ODS), in 2013.

Paje said the import ban on HCFC is pursuant to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, to which the Philippines is a signatory.

“Starting 2013, we are putting a cap on the importation of HCFC to 2,644 metric tons (MT) - the country’s average import of HCFC from 2009 to 2010,” Paje said.

From the base level of 2,644 MT, the HCFC import will be gradually reduced by 10 percent, to 2, 3796 MT by 2015; 35 percent to 1,718.6 MT by 2020; then 67.5 percent, to 859.3 MT in 2025.

From 2030 to 2039, however, Paje said the DENR will allow the import of the substance to only 66.1 MT annually, representing 2.5 percent of the base level, for the continued use of the servicing sector.

HCFCs are a group of ODS controlled by the Montreal Protocol and is last of eight ODS groups to be phased out pursuant to the Protocol. The other ODS that have already been phased out in the country include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) 11, 12, 113, 114, halon 1301 and 1211, carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroforms.

HCFC consumption in the Philippines is attributed to HCFC-22, more commonly known as R-22, HCFC-141b, HCFC-123 and blends of HCFC-225. HCFCs are commonly used as substitutes for CFCs in the foam blowing, refrigeration, fire-extinguishing, solvent and servicing sectors.

Of these HCFCs, Paje said the DENR will prioritize the phase-out of HCFC-141b because it has the most ozone-depleting potential (ODP) of 0.11 as compared with HCFC-22 or R-22 with an ODP of .055 only, HCFC-123 with 0.02 and HCFC blends, from .025 to .033.

It will initially cover the foam sector, particularly the polyurethane rigid foam in appliances, panels and sprays. A total of 364.34 MT of HCFCs is projected to be phased out under the project, which is being implemented by the DENR through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Paje said a total of USD2.26 million was granted to fund the project from the Multilateral Fund (MLF) and Japan.