2022: A Milestone Year for Tradewater

Tim Brown

Tradewater is a mission-driven company, and we are in the business of preventing catastrophic climate change.  
We aim to make the greatest possible difference in the fight against climate change and do so as quickly as possible. 
You may know of Tradewater through our work to collect, control, and destroy the world’s most potent greenhouse and ozone-depleting refrigerant gases. 
But you may not be aware of our broader strategies, and how our small team of 40 global employees is working to scale our climate solutions exponentially to achieve the highest climate impact possible. Tradewater has emerged as one of the largest businesses actively developing programs focused on old refrigerant gases. And we work with organizations of all sizes, as well as individuals and households, to help them achieve their sustainability goals – through high-quality carbon offset credits that we generate through our high impact climate solutions and that enable us to fund this urgent work.   
Now, we are setting our sights even further: We plan to expand our impact through other non-CO2 gases, particularly by implementing solutions for methane leaking from abandoned oil and gas wells.

Here are a few things we have set our sights on for 2023—and beyond:

  • Developing Methane Projects: We are currently developing a new portfolio of carbon offset projects focused on permanently stopping ongoing leaks of methane from entering the atmosphere. Our methane projects focus on plugging abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells – of which there are 2 million in the United States alone – stopping existing leaks and preventing future leaks from these uncontrolled sources.

    Methane is 84 times more potent than CO2 and is a short-lived climate pollutant that accelerates climate change in the short term. Therefore, this is a critical strategy in fighting climate change, because it buys more time for longer-term CO2 reduction strategies to be implemented.


  • Greater Impact. With all our work to date and your support we have proudly collected, controlled, and destroyed nearly 6 million tons of CO2e. We have set a bold new goal of collecting, controlling, and destroying at least 3 million tons of CO2e annually beginning in 2023. We are dedicated to increasing our impact by preventing at least 22 million tons of CO2e from being released into the atmosphere over the next five years.

    Our relationships will enable us to meet these goals. Whether it is a household or a small business seeking to support meaningful climate action, or a larger organization committed to maximizing its climate responsibilities, our expanding projects, partnership programs and high-quality carbon offsets ensure that we can make a significant and permanent climate impact, together. This is the type of ambition we believe is needed to give us a fighting chance to prevent catastrophic climate change.

  •  Increased global opportunities. The way that the world addresses the climate crisis continues to evolve, and we want to make sure that we are ready to support meaningful climate action every step of the way.

    As new carbon offset (compliance) markets mature worldwide, we plan to increase our footprint, allowing more opportunities to scale our impact and ensuring that high-quality, high impact credits are available in these markets.  With these increased opportunities for meaningful global climate engagement, we are poised to answer the call to provide high quality offsets to these new markets and to help countries achieve their climate goals. 


Preventing catastrophic climate change is up to all of us, and we know it is possible. Let us work together and take urgent action to give our planet a fighting chance. 



Emission reductions are considered permanent if they are not reversible. In some projects, such as forestry or soil preservation, carbon offset credits are issued based upon the volume of CO2 that will be sequestered over future decades—but human actions and natural processes such as forest fires, disease, and soil tillage can disrupt those projects. When that happens, the emission reductions claimed by the project are reversed.

The destruction of halocarbon does not carry this risk. All destruction activities in Tradewater’s projects are conducted pursuant to the Montreal Protocol , which requires “a destruction process” that “results in the permanent transformation, or decomposition of all or a significant portion of such substances.” Specifically, the destruction facilities Tradewater uses must meet or exceed the recommendations of the UN Technology & Economic Assessment Panel , which approves certain technologies to destroy halocarbons, including the requirement that the technology achieve a 99.99% or higher “destruction and removal efficiency.” Simply put, this means that Tradewater’s technologies ensure that over 99.99% of the chemicals are permanently destroyed. During the destruction process, a continuous emission monitoring system is used to ensure full destruction of the ODS collected.


Some carbon offset projects necessarily rely on estimations or assumptions when calculating the emission reductions from project activities. Forestry projects, where developers make assumptions about the carbon that will be sequestered over future decades if trees are conserved, are a perfect example. Such projects sometimes result in an overestimation of the environmental benefit of the project.

Tradewater’s halocarbon projects avoid the issue of overestimation by consistently conducting extremely precise testing and measurement of the amount of refrigerant destroyed in each project.

  • Every container of ODS that Tradewater destroys is weighed by a third-party using regularly calibrated scales. The ODS is then sampled by a third-party and analyzed by an accredited refrigerant laboratory to determine its species and purity. These two steps combine to ensure that credits are issued only for the precise volume and type of refrigerant destroyed.
  • The destruction facilities that Tradewater uses continuously monitor the incineration process during destruction events to ensure that over 99.99% of the ODS is destroyed. This monitoring is mandated by regulatory protocols and is part of the verification process to which projects are subjected.
  • Tradewater accounts for the project emissions created during the collection, transport, and destruction of ODS, and the number of offsets issued is reduced by a corresponding amount. The protocols that we use also build in other reductions to account for substitute chemicals that will be used to replace the destroyed refrigerants. Tradewater publishes this information in the documentation for all its ODS destruction projects. These documents outline how the material was obtained, the project emissions calculations, the test results, and the amount and type of ODS chemicals destroyed, among other information.
  • Additionality

    It is a basic requirement of all carbon offset projects that the underlying project activities are additional. “Additional” means that the projects would not happen in the absence of a carbon market. Tradewater’s halocarbon projects simply would not happen – and the gases would be left to escape into the atmosphere – without the sale of the resulting carbon offset credits. This is because there is no mandate to collect and destroy these gases. It is still permissible to buy, sell, and use halocarbons that were produced before the ban. There are other reasons halocarbon destruction projects are additional:

    • There are no incentives or financial mechanisms to encourage halocarbon destruction. According to the International Energy Agency and United Nations Environment Program, “there is rarely funding nor incentive” to recover and destroy ozone depleting substances in storage tanks and discarded equipment. And collecting, transporting, and destroying halocarbons is time-intensive and expensive. The burden to collect and destroy these gases therefore remains prohibitive outside of carbon offset markets—meaning that if organizations like Tradewater do not do this work, nobody else will.
    • Countries are not focused on the need to collect and destroy halocarbons. The Montreal Protocol has been celebrated as a success because of its production ban. This success, however, ignores the legacy gases produced before the ban and is a blind spot for government regulators. In the U.S., for example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a Vintaging Model in the 1990s to estimate the quantify of ozone depleting substances left in circulation. Based on the inputs and assumptions put into the model, the EPA predicted that no CFCs would be available for recovery beyond 2020 in the United States. But this prediction did not prove accurate. Tradewater has collected and destroyed more than 1.5 million pounds of CFCs globally in recent years and continues to identify thousands of pounds per week.
    • International carbon accounting standards do not require corporations to measure or track emissions tied to halocarbons, and refrigerants are specifically excluded from Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) commitments. These commitments derive from emissions reporting under the GHG Protocol, which requires companies to report on emissions only from new generation refrigerants, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), but does not establish any obligation to report inventories or emissions of refrigerants still in use, such as CFCs and HCFCs. All these factors combine to make Tradewater’s carbon offset projects highly additional. As Giving Green, an initiative of IDinsight, concluded: “Tradewater would not exist without the offset market, so this element of additionality is clearly achieved.” The case for additionality is not so clear for some other project types, such as forestry and landfill gas carbon projects. For example, some forests are already being conserved for their beauty, or for use as parks, and generate carbon offset credits only because those conservation efforts do not yet have full formal protection in place to avoid deforestation in the future. Similarly, methane from landfills can be used to make electricity or captured as compressed natural gas, thereby creating additional revenue streams to support the activities, beyond the sale of carbon credits.