HCFC stakeholder meeting gets ball rolling

HCFC stakeholder meeting gets ball rolling

The first HCFC stakeholder meeting for the year took place on 8 March where plans for the long-awaited HPMP roadshows were finalised.

After the usual introductions, the usual formalities of going through the previous minutes and giving feedback on the actionables ensued. The meeting took place at the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and was well-attended by stakeholders from across the industry.

HPMP roadshows

The HCFC Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP) roadshow was discussed as usual but this time there was progress in terms of appointing a service provider and centres in which to be held.

At the time of the meeting, no dates were confirmed yet, but it has since been finalised as follows:

  • 12 June 2018 – Midrand
  • 14 June 2018 – Durban
  • 19 June 2018 – Port Elizabeth
  • 21 June 2018 – Cape Town

Gloria Tettey of the United Nations United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) office in Austria had travelled to South Africa to attend the stakeholders meeting and to finalise the roadshow. The cost of the roadshow is part of the multilateral funding to South Africa for the implementation of the Montreal Protocol.

The aim of the roadshow is to inform the industry of all key elements in South Africa’s HPMP and provide an easy-to-use handbook with all the key elements to understand the whole phase out of refrigerants instead of referring to the many documents and publications that have been produced since South Africa signed the Montreal Protocol in January 1990.

Reclamation machine

The saga of the reclaiming equipment sponsored by UNIDO continued at the meeting in March. Since the previous stakeholder meeting, a study tour was organised to visit Argentina and Mexico to gain insight as to how similar systems have been used to encourage the recovery of refrigerant.

The DEA gave feedback in terms of lessons learnt on the trip:

  1. They use an online permitting system which we can be implemented here as well, and be managed by the DEA, International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) and the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
  2. A memorandum of understanding within the industry is required to ensure the sustainability and viability of the project.
  3. In terms of service technicians, the visited countries had an upskilling programme at the Technikons to train people on the estimated 4 000 portable machines in use there. The DEA plans on upskilling informal technicians similarly.

“We also learnt, for the business to be sustainable, it needs to go beyond reclamation to also recycling,” explains Zukie Gwayi of DEA in her feedback. “But there needs to be an economic incentive for people to bring stuff in.”

The four machines were expected to be shipped in April and to enter through the KwaZulu-Natal ports. The machines would be distributed to KZN, Limpopo and Gauteng for the three pilot studies while the location of the fourth machine is still to be finalised. Currently they are looking at the Eastern Cape for possibilities.

The department is still working on the legal requirements and licensing requirements for these reclamation units.

There was concerns raised at the meeting about the availability of back up spares and the maintenance of these units. But it was confirmed that the equipment will be supported by the supplier.

ODS regulations progress

Next followed an update on the ozone depleting substances (ODS) regulation which is currently being revised.

Ron Buissinne, finance director of A-Gas, took this opportunity to suggest the possibility of ‘resuscitating’ the South African Fluorocarbon Association that used to drive previous phase-outs and other refrigerant-related matters. He spoke about the idea of a self-policing industry, like how it works in Australia, where an import levy is charged when gas is bought and refunded when the gas is reclaimed or recovered.

However, it was decided that the government does not want ‘mushrooming associations’ and it is worried about representation. They want to keep it to one forum and instead shifted the focus to how to keep the existing stakeholder meetings relevant.

Once the conversation was steered back to the ODS regulations, the DEA reported generally on what the amended regulations (soon to be published for comment) will focus on. It will include a socio-economic assessment as well as suggestions for the ban of disposable refrigerant canisters.

John Ackermann, president of the South African Refrigerated Distributors Association (SARDA), asked for the amendment to include a section about keeping an inventory of refrigerants used in a plant.

The DEA said they would circulate the concept document to identify gaps to be addressed.

The quick mention of the banning of disposables did not go unnoticed of course and quickly elicited reaction from across the room.

Bob Arrandale, regional manager of Kovco, raised a concern that banning disposables, “will really hurt the industry.” Although Kovco does have tanks for the more common refrigerants, they don’t keep supply of ALL refrigerants in tanks and moving gas from Cape Town to Johannesburg all the time will lead to exorbitant costs, which negatively impact the industry and especially smaller contractors.

There was a request for an impact study to be done to determine what it will cost to ban disposable refrigerant cans, who it will affect and whether we can afford it as an industry.

Tamlyn Maddocks, Africa stock and logistics manager at Metraclark, raised the issue that South Africa, as a gateway to Africa supplies land-locked countries with refrigerants. “Refillables will be a logistical problem as there will be issues to get them to and from over boarders,” a representative said. “Re-importation of cylinders will also be a hassle. We can’t guarantee that those cylinders will come back over the border. Disposables are a need, for not only our market but Africa too. We mustn’t be short-sighted.”

Buissinne asked that the document be recirculated for everyone to read and that they were given the opportunity to respond with any concerns.

Ackermann commented that we must check where international suppliers are in terms of getting rid of disposables. “We’re completely dependent on them. If they’re getting rid of disposables, we have no choice but to follow suit.”

It was concluded that the topic will be discussed further at the next meeting.

It was reported that the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol will be proposed in parliament soon. Government has approved but they are waiting for parliament before it can be ratified.

HCFC consumption

Lutendo Ndhlovu of DEA was up next to present the HCFC consumption figures for 2017 (January to December). She presented the following numbers to the group…

HCFC consumption for 2017:

  Import Export Consumption 
R 22
Metric tonnes (MT) 2 397.9 189.98 2 207.9
ODP tonnes (ODPT) 131.9 10.4 121.5
MT 47.3 17.6 29.7
ODPT 2.7 1.003 1.7
MT 33.8 0 33.8
ODPT 0.9 0 0.9
MT 0 0.4 0
ODPT 0 0.002 0
MT 0 0.27 0
ODPT 0 0.03 0

Total imports and exports:

2017 Import Export Consumption
MT 2 479 207.9 2 271
ODPT 135.5 11.4 124

South Africa’s total consumption in 2017 was 124 ODPT. With the baseline of 326 ODPT and a target reduction of 20% by end of 2017, the consumption was well within the target of 260 ODPT.

TVET pilot study

Gift Molokwane of the DEA’s National Ozone Unit (NOU) gave an update on the Limpopo vocational college pilot study taking place at the Capricorn College in Polokwane. He announced that the event will take place on 12 April where they will interact with students interested in studying refrigeration and air conditioning courses. “We want to establish a collaboration between government and industry to upskill the industry,” Molokwane said. “We want to promote formal registration within the RAC sector.”

Tariff classifications

The tariff classifications were on the agenda as usual. But once again the South African Revenue Service (SARS) weren’t in attendance to give an update.

Ackermann once again raised the issue of certain refrigerants having more than one classification, causing problems in terms of reporting on consumption.

For example, R408A is on the list six times! Some refrigerants have duties on them and others not. Buissinne was to meet with SARS the following day to discuss and will give feedback in the next stakeholder meeting.

Permits and imports

It was reported that there are nine importers who are outstanding in terms of reporting on consumption. DEA confirmed that these parties will not have their new permit applications processed.

There are still stakeholders importing refrigerants without permits and DEA assured the meeting that they will follow up on this as it puts all parties in a compromising position in terms of the Montreal Protocol. And it’s illegal of course.

Non-conformance complaints

DEA has received a report from their compliance department and have done two site inspections after receiving complaints of non-conformance with the gazetted HPMP legislation.

Ongoing matters

The Chemicals summit scheduled for 2018 has been postponed to May so there can be more extensive training beforehand. No date was set as of the time the meeting took place.

Feedback was given on various meetings, including a meeting with the board of South African Qualification and Certification Committee for Gas (SAQCC) Gas. At this meeting changes to the training of informal service technicians was discussed and how to improve such. There is an issue of sensitivity in terms of the registration fees, DEA reported, and the board might look at reducing the fees.

The date of the next stakeholders meeting will be confirmed in the minutes circulated last month.


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