Global partnerships pave the way for increased efforts to prevent catastrophic climate change

This week, IPCC published a report which stated, “Continued greenhouse gas emissions will lead to increasing global warming, with the best estimate of reaching 1.5°C in the near term in considered scenarios and modelled pathways. Every increment of global warming will intensify multiple and concurrent hazards.”

As we recently shared in our white paper on why our work matters, every scenario for achieving this 1.5o C target requires an immediate reduction of non-CO2 gases.

If you’ve been following our work over the years, you know that Tradewater’s unique role in the fight against climate change is our focus on collecting, controlling and destroying potent non-CO2 gases. Given that these gases have a disproportionately large impact on the warming of the planet, a scalable solution is long overdue.

For the past several years, we’ve been laser focused on this issue, and we’re proud to share that this year, Tradewater has received the ACR Registry Innovation Award for our leadership in co-developing the greenhouse gas registry’s methodology for International ODS (ozone depleting substance) destruction.

This methodology is game-changing, and we’ll tell you why.

The Montreal Protocol, which banned the production and consumption of the potent non-CO2 gas Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), did not include an end-of-life mandate to collect and destroy these gases—nor sufficient funding to do the work at the necessary scale.

Across the world, there are currently billions of metric tons of CO2 equivalent of CFCs, which are either being illegally used in old, potentially leaking, equipment, or stockpiled in rusting tanks around the world – that may also be leaking – without an appropriate solution.

ACR Registry recognized Tradewater’s global leadership and strategic innovation in developing a methodology to collect these CFCs in developing countries, as well as allowing for the export of these controlled gases across borders for destruction to countries with compliant facilities. Since many of these source countries don’t have sufficient destruction capacity, it’s essential to develop a rigorous process to ensure safe transportation and adherence to multinational agreements through the Basel Convention. This innovation made it possible to address an urgent threat by preventing these potent gases from being released into the atmosphere.

These innovations within the ACR Registry methodology increase accessibility to carbon financing for purposes of ODS collection and destruction, which is both costly and challenging.

Tradewater has a small team, with about 40 employees around the world, focused on scalable strategies for collecting, controlling, and destroying potent greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases. The partnership with and validation from a well-established organization like ACR Registry is incredibly meaningful, because it reinforces the fact that the challenging path we’ve chosen can make a significant impact in preventing global warming.

We are looking forward to continuing our collaboration with ACR Registry and others in pursuit of our planet. There’s no time to waste.


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.