A-Gas Group Sustainability Compliance Manager, Elvira Nigido, explains why the company has launched its Towards Zero, Together campaign and why customers will play a key role.
For nearly 30 years, A‑Gas has proudly invested in its people, processes, and technology to recover and reclaim used refrigerants such as CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs and halons for re-use. This means the demand on virgin product is reduced and, importantly, this refrigerant is not emitted to the atmosphere.
As a result of this, A-Gas has been a key contributor to the Montreal Protocol while successfully building the world’s foremost refrigerant lifecycle management company. Our purpose as an organization is to build a sustainable future and this is translated into our daily operations and, equally, into our commercial offerings for our customers as they make their way forward on their own sustainability journeys.
Our unique offering of recovery, reclamation and repurposing services to our customers is a hallmark of the circular economy, which is the opposite to the traditional take, make and dispose business model. The reclamation of refrigerant gases avoids the energy needed for refrigerant manufacture and shipping which, from an economical and environmental perspective, is very positive.
At A-Gas, we have made substantial financial investments in state-of-the-art separation and cleaning technology, enabling the processing of refrigerants countless times with no inherent degradation to the quality of the refrigerant gas itself. Our stringent quality control laboratories ensure that our reclamation processes are creating refrigerants that are compliant with the internationally recognised AHRI 700 standards.
When reclamation is not the best management option gas must be responsibly destroyed. In the USA, refrigerants like CFCs, with high ozone depleting potentials, are recovered and channeled to our destruction plant in Ohio where we employ UN-approved technology to perform the destruction. Our A-Gas PyroPlas technology has the capacity to safely destroy a range of materials to greater than 99.9999 per cent efficiencies.
In 2020 alone, our reclamation and destruction efforts resulted in the equivalent of 7.7 million metric tons of CO2 being abated. This is equal to 1.6 million cars being removed from the road for a whole year.
With our customer base, we have captured thousands of tonnes of gas that may otherwise have been released to the atmosphere. One of the key mechanisms that enables the safe and environmentally compliant recovery of refrigerant from all sorts of HVAC, refrigeration, demolition, aviation and marine type industries is our mobile A-Gas Rapid Recovery Service.
We bring the recovery solution to the customer’s site saving valuable time, reducing costs and maintaining business as usual, and offering a sustainable refrigerant management solution.
If customers need to lower their carbon footprint, they also have the option of purchasing carbon offsets we develop from the destruction of CFCs or the reclamation of HFCs using approved internationally-recognised methodologies. We have supported a range of international and American companies selling our independently verified and validated compliance or voluntary carbon offsets.
We recognise that virgin refrigerants will continue to play a role in countries where HFC phasedowns are yet to be enacted. Where phasedowns exist, the lifecycle management of refrigerants will be more important than ever, as the import and manufacture of virgin refrigerant significantly shrinks.
As the world transitions to the use of lower global warming refrigerants, A-Gas will be a critical player in bringing innovative solutions to our customers, while lifecycle managing all previous generations of gases – CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs and HFOs.
As the first A-Gas Group Sustainability Compliance Manager, my role is to support the leadership and proactively drive the internal global sustainability programme. A key component of the role is concentrating on embedding sustainability into our processes and management systems, so it continues to be a part of our day-to-day life at A-Gas. Measuring and reporting on our carbon footprint and tracking against our sustainability pledge is also a key part of the role.
We have collated data to measure our carbon footprint. This has been independently verified (Scope 1 and 2 emissions) based on the widely accepted Greenhouse Gas Protocol accounting standards. Having this base line as an organisation enabled us to set emission reduction goals leading to the development of our sustainability pledge, to become net-zero by 2035 and cut emissions by 50 per cent by 2028. These are ambitious goals and we are ready to step up to the challenge of continuous emission reduction improvement to realise their achievement.
We are closely looking at how we operate globally as an organisation and, in a practical sense, we have already started. By reviewing the A-Gas Group’s safety, quality and environmental policies globally, we are making sure that we are aligned to our pledge and targeting zero as the standard we aim to meet has kicked off our embedding process.
Our dedicated Towards Zero, Together campaign puts net-zero at the top of our agenda. It encompasses three key areas – our dedication to stay safe, protecting our environment and preventing emissions leaking to the atmosphere.
We are engaging meaningfully with our talented people, looking at our processes and seeing how they can be continuously improved to become best practice.
The international movement towards sustainability and net-zero pledges is driving increased demand towards a lower carbon future, combined with an increasing demand for circularity – from a company operational perspective and equally through our commercial offerings to customers.
For A-Gas, this is not a new direction of travel; protecting the environment by effectively managing the lifecycle of refrigerants and other halocarbons is the journey we have successfully navigated for nearly 30 years and is the path of travel we passionately look forward to from here on.
It is important that end-users and installers understand and have a stake in what we are doing. Refrigerants are a finite resource and sustainability is as relevant to us as it is to our customers. It is not only about protecting the environment, it is also about business. If the industry is not focusing on managing refrigerants properly, it will be wasting money and that is not a recipe for a good business model.