On 26 August 2015, the Ministry for the Environment sought feedback on proposed changes to the Ozone Layer Protection Regulations 1996 [New Zealand Legislation website].
The consultation period closed at 5.00 pm on 23 September 2015.
These regulations manage the import and export of ozone depleting substances to meet New Zealand’s obligations under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol).
The Montreal Protocol has been very effective at reducing global emissions of ozone depleting substances, avoiding major impacts on human health and the environment. Under the Montreal Protocol countries must phase out certain chemicals in stages.
The only remaining controlled substances for New Zealand to phase out are new bulk hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). New Zealand has already phased out all new bulk HCFC import permits except for wholesale permits. The Montreal Protocol requires that wholesale permit imports of new bulk HCFCs into New Zealand stop by 2020. We are proposing to phase out wholesale import permits so wholesalers cannot import new bulk HCFCs from 1 January 2017.
We are not proposing any changes on the use of HCFCs, or imports of products containing HCFCs.
We are also proposing a minor amendment to the regulations to clarify that exemptions cannot be made to import HCFC from non-parties to the Montreal Protocol or countries which do not comply.
New Zealand is signatory to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, and its Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Together, they have established a successful ozone protection regime. The success of the Montreal Protocol has averted ongoing ozone depletion and substantial increases of ultraviolet radiation, which would have had serious impacts on human health and the environment.
New Zealand has phased out the import of all controlled ozone depleting substances in accordance with the Montreal Protocol. The import of halons was phased out by 1994, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), other fully halogenated CFCs, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform and hydrobromofluorocarbons by 1996. The import of methyl bromide for non-quarantine and pre-shipment purposes ended in 2007.
The only remaining controlled substances for New Zealand to phase out are hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are ozone depleting substances that contain chlorine. They are refrigerants in appliances such as air conditioners, heat pumps and refrigeration systems (domestic fridges, commercial and industrial chillers, cool stores, refrigerated containers, etc). HCFCs are also used to manufacture insulation foams for products like water heaters, cool stores and water pipes.
The most common HCFC in refrigeration is R22, which needs to be replaced when it has leaked out of appliances and products.
Under the Ozone Layer Protection Regulations 1996, wholesalers may apply to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to import HCFCs each year. The EPA has a limit of 2.5 ODP tonnes. (The ODP represents the amount of ozone destroyed by emission of a gas over its entire atmospheric lifetime.) Wholesalers apply by 1 December to import HCFCs in the following calendar year.
When the EPA considers an application for a permit, it must consider:
- the amount that is available for allocation
- the total amount for which applications have been received
- the importance of the use to which the substance will be put
- whether there is a viable alternative to the use of the substance that would be less harmful to the environment.
If the EPA decides to approve the application, the wholesale permit holder is then able to import in the following year the amount of HCFCs the EPA has specified.
Find out more
Minister's media release: Consultation on steps to ozone recovery and asbestos ban [Beehive website]
Controls and procedures for HCFCs [Environmental Protection Authority website]
Twenty questions and answers about the ozone layer: 2014 update [PDF, 6.5KB] [United Nations Environment Programme Ozone Secretariat website]
Questions and answers about the environmental effects of the ozone layer depletion and climate change: 2010 update [PDF, 2.6KB] [United Nations Environment Programme Ozone Secretariat website]