TV clips CFCs and the ozone layer – 1988/89 Julia Hailes campaigning for ozone-friendly aerosols etc (Posted Nov20)

The campaign to remove CFCs from aerosols was one of the most successful that I’ve been involved with. In the late 1980s, the link between chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and the destruction of the ozone layer was made. However, it took a while to convince the industry that this was a real problem. I remember giving a speech to some executives at ICI who manufactured CFCs and they were very hostile to the idea.

The green consumer focus was initially on aerosols and the key solution at the time was to switch to pump action sprays. Subsequently, the manufacturers worked out how to make aerosol propellants without CFCs. But the chemical had other common uses too, for example in foam packaging. McDonalds took a while to take a stand, but eventually they did and insisted that all their foam packaging was CFC free. Packaging manufacturers had been protesting about being forced to change but when they realised that their largest customers were going to buy elsewhere, they had to bite the bullet – a testament to the power of market forces.

CFCs were also widely used in refrigeration – and that industry had to change too. However, they continued to be used in commercial refrigeration and air conditioning systems, for example in supermarkets. When that industry started changing many moved to another chemical – HFCs – which were not causing the destruction of the ozone layer, but were very significant in terms of climate change impacts (Greenhouse gases). Between 2008 and 2013, I worked with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) on their Chilling Facts campaign, putting pressure on supermarkets to become HFC-free…

Now all aerosols are CFC-free or ozone-friendly… But there are still issues to be tackled. See this link:

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