Refrigerants - Tradewater


Refrigerants are potent greenhouse gases that cause climate change and many also deplete the ozone layer. They are chemical compounds used in various forms of refrigeration, in residential or industrial cooling systems, and in industrial or commercial chillers. 

We work with three refrigerant types:




Why this Matters

In 1987, a global agreement known as the Montreal Protocol was finalized, calling for the phase out of production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances, including CFCs and HCFCs (HFCs were later added, via the Kigali Amendment).

They are potent: Refrigerants are up to 10,200 times more powerful than CO2.

They’re still out there: While the historic agreement phased out production, the Montreal Protocol did not include a mandate to destroy existing stockpiles at the end-of-life, and these gases are still in use—or sitting unused in various quantities across the globe.

They need urgent attention: Many of these gases are stored in aging or damaged containers, or continue to be used in equipment that is decades old, and all are at risk of leaking into the atmosphere.

This is an urgent climate threat. A 2022 MIT report revealed that 11 billion metric tons of CO2e could be released into the environment from existing CFC refrigerant gases alone. Refrigerant gases also deplete the ozone layer, causing long-term climate impacts.

Our Solution

Tradewater collects and destroys refrigerant gases, aggregating small quantities to have a greater impact. It is challenging and expensive work, but it is necessary to ensure these potent greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases are permanently prevented from being released into the atmosphere. We are the only company in the world focused on this critical work, which Project Drawdown  highlights as a leading climate solution to prevent runaway climate change.

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The climate impact of Tradewater’s Refrigerant Projects meets and exceeds the most robust protocols, resulting in the highest quality carbon offset credits.

The emission reductions are permanent: the refrigerants we collect are destroyed—permanently and irreversibly.

The emission reductions are additional: there is no end-of-life solution for these refrigerants—if we don’t do this work, no one else will.

The projects are verified: the climate benefits are rigorously audited by an independent third-party, and carbon offset credits are issued by the world’s leading carbon registries (including the American Carbon Registry).

The projects are responsible: Our projects create economic benefits for local communities and meet UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The smart choice for sustainable investing: carbon credits you can trust.

© Copyright Tradewater 2023
Tradewater generates carbon offset credits by collecting and permanently destroying harmful greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the form of refrigerant gases through a safe, verifiable process. If not destroyed, these GHGs would eventually be released into the atmosphere.


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.