Ozone depleting substances

This page has information on ozone depleting substances that are regulated in New Zealand and measures to reduce them.

What are ozone depleting substances?

Ozone depleting substances are man-made gases that destroy ozone once the gases reach the ozone layer. The ozone layer sits in the upper atmosphere and reduces the amount of harmful ultra violet radiation that reaches Earth from the sun. Ultraviolet radiation can have detrimental effects on both humans and the environment such as inducing skin cancer and cataracts, distorting plant growth and damaging the marine environment. 

Ozone depleting substances include:

  • chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) 
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • hydrobromoflurocarbons (HBFCs)
  • halons
  • methyl bromide
  • carbon tetrachloride
  • methyl chloroform.

They have been used as:

  • refrigerants in commercial, home and vehicle air conditioners and refrigerators
  • foam blowing agents
  • a component in electrical equipment
  • industrial solvents
  • solvents for cleaning (including dry cleaning)
  • aerosol spray propellants
  • fumigants.

Chlorofluorocarbons 

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were widely used as refrigerants until the 1980s when it was confirmed that they were the main source of harm to the ozone layer. They are also considered greenhouse gases that cause climate change. CFCs have not been imported into New Zealand since 1996. However there are still CFCs left in older industrial air conditioning and refrigeration systems, car air conditioning systems and domestic refrigerators.

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons 

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) have been used as a substitute for CFCs. They do less damage to the ozone layer than CFCs. 
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have been used since as an alternative to CFCs and HCFCs. HFCs do not contribute to ozone depletion. However they are potent greenhouse gas and their use is currently being phased out as part of New Zealand’s obligations under the Montreal Protocol. 

To find out more see Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

Halons

Halons are halocarbon gases that were originally developed for use in fire extinguishers. Production and consumption of halons ended in 1994 in developed countries including New Zealand. Halons produced before 1994 and recycled halons are now the only sources of supply in New Zealand. 

The Fire Protection Association of New Zealand is currently undertaking a Halon Responsible Disposal Project. 

Find out more on the Fire Protection Association of New Zealand website.

Methyl bromide

Methlyl bromide is an extremely toxic ozone depleting substance. There are very limited circumstances in which the use of methyl bromide is permitted.

Find out more about Methyl bromide

Control of ozone depleting substances 

It is illegal to dispose of ozone depleting substances by releasing them into the atmosphere. Unwanted ozone depleting substances should be collected for destruction.  

The Environmental Protection Authority is responsible for issuing permits to import or export ozone-depleting substances. To find out more see the following web pages on the Environmental Protection Authority website.

Hazardous aspects of ozone depleting substances are controlled by the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act.

Reducing ozone depleting substances

New Zealand is a signatory to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (the protocol which sets targets for reducing the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances. New Zealand’s commitments under the protocol are contained in the Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996 and the Ozone Layer Protection Regulations 1996.

New Zealand does not manufacture any of the substances controlled under the protocol. 

In accordance with the protocol, the import of non-essential halons was phased out by 1994 and CFCs, other fully halogenated CFCs, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform and HBFCs by 1996. 

The import of methyl bromide for non-quarantine and pre-shipment purposes ended in 2007. The phase-out of baseline production and consumption of HCFCs was completed in 2014. A small amount can still be imported under wholesaler permits. The Government is proposing to phase out wholesaler permits for imports of HCFCs.

For more information see the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Find out more

Atmosphere [National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research website] - has information on greenhouse gases and ozone depletion.

United Nations Environment Programme Ozone Secretariat website  - includes frequently asked questions on the ozone layer.

Reviewed:
28/08/15