Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Protecting Stratospheric Ozone A Quarter Century After Montreal

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Apr 23, 2013 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer provides the international framework for protecting the earth’s stratospheric ozone layer, by identifying and minimizing emissions of ozone depleting substances (ODSs).  The original Montreal Protocol was initialed in September 1987.  The U.S. was an original signatory, ratified in 1988, and became subject to agreed-upon provisions on January 1, 1989.  Title VI of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments incorporates these international commitments into U.S. law, and assigns the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fine-tune and enforce domestic requirements.

Identifying and Phasing Out ODSs

Title VI defines Class I substances and Class II substances, based on numerical “ozone-depletion potentials” reflecting each substance’s relative potential to contribute to ozone depletion.  Each substance is subject to a phase-out date for manufacturing and importation, and most are subject to useage restrictions thereafter.  EPA administers the lists and dates, updating them to reflect amendments to the Montreal Protocol, advances in understanding of the chemicals’ impacts, and the development and availability of less-depleting alternatives.

Class I substances (those most harmful to the ozone layer) are divided into 8 groups: Groups I, II, and III include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons; Group IV includes carbon tetrachloride; Group V includes methyl chloroform; Group VI consists of methyl bromide; Group VII includes hydrobromofluorocarbons; and Group VIII consists of chlorobromomethane.  All have been phased out, except that methyl bromide’s phase out date is January 1, 2015.

Class II substances are hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which generally provide less-depleting substitutes for Class I substances and are being phased out more slowly.  EPA has accelerated Title VI’s initial statutory deadlines in response to subsequent revisions to Montreal Protocol deadlines, to the following:  

  • January 1, 2003, reduce overall baseline consumption and production by 35 percent, and no production or importing of HCFC-141b.

  • January 1, 2010, reduce overall baseline consumption and production by 75 percent, and no production or importing of HCFC-142b and HCFC-22, except for use in equipment manufactured before that date.

  • January 1, 2015, reduce overall baseline consumption and production by 90 percent, and no production or importing of any HCFCs, except for use as refrigerants in equipment manufactured before that date.

  • Effective January 1, 2020, reduce overall baseline consumption and production by 99.5 percent, and no production or importing of HCFC-142b and HCFC-22.

  • January 1, 2030, complete phase out of production, importation, and consumption.

In order to implement the controls on the production and consumption of Class I and II substances, EPA issues company-specific allowances for each substance.  Companies are prohibited from production and consumption exceeding their unexpended allowances.  Title VI specifically provide for interpollutant and intercompany transfers of these allowances, however.  In addition, limited production of phased-out ODSs continues under exceptions for “essential uses.”

In addition, Title VI bans certain “nonessential products” that would release Class I substances or contain or are manufactured with Class II substances.  For example, Title VI prohibits the sale or distribution in interstate commerce of CFC-propelled plastic party streamers and noise horns, and CFC-containing cleaning fluids for noncommercial electronic and photographic equipment.  Title VI also prohibits the sale or distribution, or the offer for sale or distribution in interstate commerce of certain products containing Class II substances, including any aerosol product or pressurized dispenser or plastic foam product containing or manufactured with a Class II substance.  Initial bans on nonessential uses identified in Title VI took effect February 16, 1993 for Class I, and January 1, 1994 for Class II.  EPA has expanded the list of nonessential products through a number of rulemakings. 

Using ODSs

ODSs remain in use, including those not yet phased out, and phased-out ODSs in permissible continuing uses.  A variety of EPA rules govern these activities.


Title VI requires warning statements (labels) on containers of, and products containing or manufactured with, Class I and II substances introduced into interstate commerce.  Title VI requires the following language on the label:

Warning: Contains [or Manufactured with, if applicable] [insert name of substance], a substance which harms public health and environment by destroying ozone in the upper atmosphere. 

Each label must be “clearly legible and conspicuous.”   Beginning in 1993, labeling generally is required within one year after EPA designates an ODS.

Recycling, Emissions Reductions and Equipment Maintenance

Title VI requires reduction in potentially harmful refrigerants to the lowest achievable level during service, maintenance, repair, and disposal of appliances.  To achieve these reductions, EPA regulations establish the following requirements:

  • Technicians who service and dispose of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment must observe specified “service practices” that reduce refrigerant emissions.

  • Technicians who service air conditioning and refrigeration equipment must obtain certification through an EPA-approved testing organization; sales of refrigerants are restricted to certified technicians.

  • All manufacturers and importers of recycling and recovery equipment intended for use during maintenance, service, or repair of an appliance must ensure the equipment meets EPA-mandated standards.

  • All persons reclaiming used refrigerant for sale to a new owner must certify to EPA that the reclaimed refrigerant meets EPA-mandated standards of quality.

  • Owners of appliances normally containing at least 50 pounds of refrigerant must repair leaks, and refrigerants must be removed prior to disposal.

Separate parallel requirements apply to servicing of motor vehicle air conditioners.

Significant New Alternatives

Title VI authorizes EPA to evaluate and regulate substitutes for identified ozone-depleting substances.  EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program is intended to expedite movement away from ozone-depleting substances by identifying substitutes for use in refrigeration and air conditioning, foam blowing, solvents cleaning, fire suppression and explosion protection, tobacco expansion, adhesives, coatings and inks, aerosols, sterilants, and pesticides.  A would-be producer of a new chemical, product substitute, or alternative manufacturing process intended for use as a replacement for a Class I or II compound must submit a Notice of Intent to EPA 90 days before introducing the substitute into interstate commerce.  SNAP rules govern EPA’s review of these Notices, and publication of information about reviews in the Federal Register.

Implementation Checklist

  • Does the organization manufacture or import any ODS subject to the Montreal Protocol and/or CAA Title VI?

    • If the phase-out date for any ODS has passed, does the activity qualify with applicable exceptions or essential uses?

    • Is each container labeled in compliance with Title VI requirements?

  • Does the organization use any ODSs?

    • If the phase-out date for any ODS has passed, does the activity qualify with applicable exceptions or essential uses?
    • Is each container labeled in compliance with Title VI requirements?
    • Does use comply with recycling and emission reduction requirements?
    • Does equipment servicing comply with applicable requirements, including performance by certified personnel?
  • Does the organization manufacture, import or use any substitute for a listed ODS?

    • If so, is the activity identified under EPA’s SNAP program?

Where do I go for more information?

Information available via the Internet includes:

About the Author Elliott is President of Touchstone Environmental and has been a major contributor to STP’s product range for over 25 years. He was involved in developing 16 existing products, including Environmental Compliance: A Simplified National GuideGreenhouse Gas Auditing of Supply Chains and The Complete Guide to Environmental Law.

Mr. Elliott has a diverse educational background. In addition to his Juris Doctor (University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, 1981), he holds a Master of Public Policy (Goldman School of Public Policy [GSPP], UC Berkeley, 1980), and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Princeton University, 1977).

Mr. Elliott is active in professional and community organizations. In addition, he is a past chairman of the Board of Directors of the GSPP Alumni Association, and past member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of California's Environmental Law Section (including past chair of its Legislative Committee).

You may contact Mr. Elliott directly at:

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