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The CFC phase out is a major component of the international effort to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. The phase out relied on market forces to encourage development of CFC alternatives. This approach allowed CFC users to respond independently and creatively, often leading to improved technologies and cost reductions. The following are some examples.
The AGMC is a critical repair facility for military navigation and guidance systems. The center once consumed more than 2 million pounds per year of CFC-based cleaning solvents, and it faced a daunting challenge in making the transition to non-ozone-depleting substances. Missile guidance systems are so sensitive that parts must fit with clearances of only one to five microns (millionths of a meter), and the most minute residue can affect a missile’s target accuracy.
The AGMC developed The Ozone Depleting Chemical Elimination program, and initiated testing of alternatives. By shifting to more benign cleaning techniques, the AGMC has virtually eliminated dependence on ozone-depleting chemicals. Aerospace and electronics companies have praised AGMC’s cleaning processes. In 1995 the center won the Ford Foundation “Innovations in American Government” award.
In 1988, the makers of disposable foam cartons and food packaging announced a nation-wide phase out of CFC use in food service packaging foams. At that time, about one-third of foam products for food service were manufactured with CFCs. This initiative, which relied on the adoption of alternative foam blowing agents, marked the first time an industry voluntarily halted use of CFCs. Cooperation between government, business, and environmental groups made this initiative successful.
AT&T was the first U.S. company to set a goal of phasing out CFC use by the end of 1994, and actually succeeded in doing so by 1993. To achieve this goal, the company tested and developed CFC alternatives for its manufacturing operations. These include terpene-based solvents and aqueous spray defluxers for use in cleaning circuit boards.
AT&T was also proactive in encouraging developing countries to support the CFC phase out. The company sent managers and technical experts to Hungary, Japan, Singapore, the former USSR, and other countries to demonstrate the new technologies. AT&T also played a leadership role in the creation of the International Cooperative for Ozone Protection (ICOLP), an industry and government partnership to promote the benefits of global cooperation in protecting the ozone layer.
The CFC phase out presents an ideal opportunity for building owners to capture energy savings by upgrading and modernizing air conditioning and refrigeration systems. A J.C. Penney retail store in Cumberland, GA implemented state-of-the-art lighting and other energy reduction measures, which in turn allowed it to install a smaller, more efficient air- conditioning and refrigeration system. This generated annual energy savings of 25 percent, amounting to $66,500/year. J.C. Penney also earned a $35,000 rebate from Atlanta Gas Light Company to defray new equipment costs.