Gases used in manufacturing sprays, refrigeration equipment, foam extinguishers as well as pesticides destroy the ozone layer. The negative effect is caused by the atoms of carbon, chlorine and fluoride, named Chlorofluorocarbons and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons that have a lifetime over a century and a significant ecological footprint on global warming.
The effect on the planet's protective shield of one unit of trifluoromethane is thousands of times bigger than of carbon dioxide: a tonne of trifluoromethane has a greenhouse effect equivalent to 14,800 tons of carbon dioxide. For comparison, to absorb one ton of CO2, 46 trees are needed.
Also called the Earth's shield, the ozone layer protects the Earth from ultraviolet radiations that, in fact, are the main cause of many types of skin cancer or blindness. At the same time, reduced ozone layer leads to declining in crops variety and consequently the amount of feeding, and as a result plants’ leaves shrink, marine life including plankton is destroyed. An economic effect that is easy to detect at the first glance is the degradation of an imposing number of plastics used in construction, paints, packaging, etc.
The solution is to give up to as many as possible hazardous substances. This will help to protect the Earth's ozone layer, as well as to fight against global warming on the planet.
"The Government of the Republic of Moldova, together with the United Nations Development Programme, takes measures to protect the ozone layer. In this regard, the Republic of Moldova has committed to phase-out hydrochlorofluorocarbons until their complete elimination by 2040," stated Victoria Jacot, Senior Consultant, Air Policy and Climate Change Section, Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment.
The second stage of the UNDP project supported by the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol started in our country in 2010, aiming to promote ozone and climate friendly technologies as well as provide technological support to the refrigeration and air conditioning sector.
With UNDP support, two Moldovan companies have benefited from financial support and installed modern equipment that works on natural refrigerant such as carbon dioxide.
CO2 is a very attractive refrigerant from an environmental perspective. It is a natural substance and is used in several refrigeration cycles. As a refrigerant, it is more efficient at low temperatures. It has excellent thermal conductive properties and high volumetric efficiency. Thus, many products can be frozen, with low carbon footprints.
Carbon dioxide technology is more expensive comparing to the technology based on synthetic refrigerants, but at the same time it is more efficient and cost-effective.
The advantages of this technology are energy efficiency of up to 40% and low-cost of refrigerants. Another important aspect is smaller amount of refrigerant to be replaced in the installations, thus considerably reducing the maintenance costs.
One of the companies that has piloted this alternative refrigerant is FORWARD INTERNATIONAL, which is specialized in wholesale distribution of food products, including frozen foods.
"We have decided to use CO2, because it consumes less electricity, it is ecological and the leakages from the system do not harm the ozone layer. In general, we prefer modern technologies, because they are more efficient and we try to get rid of the old ones," said Daniel Baciu, logistics manager, FORWARD INTERNATIONAL LTD.
The use of CO2 can offer advantages in various areas, such as the food and industrial sectors, heat pumps, refrigerated transport, coolers of servers and electrical closets.
STS TRADING, which deals with retail trade of food products, also shifted to CO2-based refrigeration technology.
"Modern trade means being environmentally friendly and efficient. CO2 does not affect the ozone layer; it is non-toxic and non-flammable. It is important for us that our customers and employees know that we are innovative and environmentally friendly, and we do care,” explains Veronica Sterghite, director, STS TRADING LTD.
An immediate effect that was felt was more aerated show-windows. "We use carbon dioxide to cool down our show-windows and the difference between old technologies and new ones is that release less heat," notes the entrepreneur.
Using ecological refrigerants is becoming a trend, says engineer Constantin Postu: "Everybody has already switched to environmentally friendly refrigerants based on CO2 and ammonia. Therefore, we propose to our clients and sometimes insist to shift to this type of equipment because there are so many advantages. What today is a choice, in the future will be a necessity and an obligation to use equipment based on ecological refrigerants”.
UNDP has been supporting the Republic of Moldova since 2010 in its efforts to phase out ozone-depleting substances, by developing policies in this area and implementing pilot projects on alternative technologies and refrigerants.
"Due to the global effort, that also involves the United Nations Development Programme, a large share of these substances has been eliminated from sectors such as refrigeration, air conditioning, sprays and others. It is a positive trend, which will culminate in the development and use of alternative, environmentally friendly and natural refrigeration substances,” said Silvia Pana-Carp, Programme Analyst, UNDP Moldova.
The Republic of Moldova became a party to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol in 1996. The Montreal Protocol aims for gradual phase out of ozone-depleting substances.
So far, 99% of chlorfluorocarbons, which have a high potential for ozone destruction, have been taken out from production and use worldwide, and alternatives have been developed.
The results were not long in coming. According to a study presented by the UN in November 2018, the ozone layer is recovering at a rate of between 1% and 3% per decade, thus reversing the dangerous trend observed for many years that signaled gradual depletion of this gas from the Earth's atmosphere due to harmful emissions.