CENTRE FOR SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION (C-SPAC)
|CUTS>C-SPAC>Campaign on Ecofrig|
campaign on ecofrig
The layer of ozone gas in
the atmosphere is like the earth’s natural sunscreen that protects life
from harmful ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Ozone is created and destroyed
as a natural process. The problem starts when ozone gets destroyed at
a greater rate with emission of ozone-depleting substances. It creates
an ozone hole through which unfiltered sunrays reach the earth. This
causes cataracts, skin cancer, loss of immunity, harm to standing crops
and genetic disorders
Concerned with the ozone-depleting
potential and effects of chloro-fluoro-carbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting
substances (ODS), the international community entered into an international
agreement called the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the
Ozone Layer in 1987 to inter alia phase-out the use of CFCs and
other ODS. Under this Protocol, 175 countries have committed themselves
to a precise schedule for reducing and, eventually, phasing-out the
consumption and production of ODS. Under the Protocol, countries with
per capita consumption of ODS below 300 grams are called Article 5 countries.
India falls into this category. The first major milestone for Article
5 countries was to freeze the levels of CFCs – CFC-11, CFC-12, CFC-113,
CFC-114, CFC-115, as stated in Annex A of the Protocol – at the 1995-1997
average levels, which came into effect on July 1, 1999.
As a premier consumer organisation, CUTS has been actively
involved in information dissemination, awareness building and lobbying
with the industry and the Government on issues of sustainable production
and consumption, with particular focus on environment-friendly technologies.
The CUTS campaign for environment-friendly refrigerators for
Indian consumers started in 1998 when the organisation undertook a two-year
awareness generation project on Ecofrig, with the support of the Swiss
Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), New Delhi office.
CUTS-Centre for Sustainable
Production and Consumption based at Calcutta works simultaneously at
the grassroots, national and international levels on various issues
that ultimately, directly or indirectly, affect the consumer. CUTS-CSPAC
has successfully coordinated the whole project. During the implementation
of the Ecofrig project, it was found that four multinational refrigerator-manufacturing
companies- Electrolux, LG, Samsung and Whirlpool- were practising double
standards. In India they are trying to promote refrigerators as environment
friendly under the pretext of using ozone depleting substances-free
technology. But they are actually using hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) technology
that is responsible for global warming. Interestingly,
these manufacturers are producing refrigerators (popularly known as
Ecofrig) using hydrocarbon (HC) technology, which is ozone friendly
and more importantly has negligible global warning potential for the
consumption of European consumers.
A series of events were planned to educate the people
on issues of ozone depletion and global warming in the quest (consumers’
rights and responsibilities) for a better environment.
The occasions selected for organising these events were Earth Day (April 22), World Environment Day (June 5) and International Ozone Day (September 16), with the objectives of:
After the completion of the final event, an element of
responsibility was created among many refrigerator-manufacturing companies.
During the campaign, refrigerator manufacturers said, they would change
to Ecofrig before the deadline committed by the Government of India.
However, they were silent on mentioning any specific deadline.
This campaign resulted in
a success when Godrej Appliances Ltd., one of the largest Indian manufacturers,
gave Indian consumers their first Ecofrig on January 9, 2001. The new
refrigerator ‘Pentacool’ uses environmentally benign and safe pentane
technology (a hydrocarbon). Godrej has launched it in four different
capacities: 180 litres, 202 litres, 215 litres and 235 litres. The models
are competitively priced vis-à-vis non-HC models of other manufacturers
like LG and Whirlpool. The launch of the first Ecofrig invigorated consumer
groups and concerned citizens who were part of nation-wide campaigns
for raising consumer awareness on the adoption and use of environment-friendly
During the course of these advocacy efforts, a senior
member of one of the State Pollution Control Boards told the press that
there was little that the Board and State Governments could do about
the use of harmful substances like HFCs. We demand to. the Central Government
to ban the use of harmful substances like HFCs.
that a strong political will needs to be developed, the organisation
made efforts with government officials, particularly at the Ozone Cell
of the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Government of India
and policy-makers to raise this issue in the Parliament and create political
consensus in formulating and implementing a law in this regard. These
efforts bore fruit when in September 2001, the Government of India decided
to start implementing the Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and
Control) Rules 2000. As per the Rules, registration of production and
trade, i.e. import-export of ozone-depleting substances has been made
mandatory for manufacturers as well as stockists (whole sellers and
retailers). The Government has also decided to implement programmes
for generating awareness on ozone depletion and its effects on the environment.
a small beginning has been made for the consumers of India to enjoy
their right to healthy environment, which is one among the eight consumer
rights as recognised by the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection,
1985. The Guidelines was amended in 1999 to extend a comprehensive work
programme on consumer protection by adding the Guidelines for Sustainable
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