The world is getting hotter and richer and global demand for cooling is growing rapidly. Cooling contributes to climate change in two ways: through energy demand and coolant emissions, as the coolants currently in use are extremely potent greenhouse gases. The international effort to reduce coolant emissions is embodied by the 2017 Kigali Amendment, which aims to phase down the production of these high-GWP coolants by 2050.
This is necessary and urgent, but does not go far enough. Even under the most optimistic projections there will be gigatons of CO2-equivalent in refrigerant emissions from billions of cooling devices over that time frame, at end of life and during routine maintenance. Project Drawdown ranked refrigerant management as their #1 most impactful mitigation approach. Over the next few years, there is a one-time opportunity to prevent these emissions, but we must move quickly.
In many developing countries, used household cooling devices are handled by family-run technician shops, who fix up old devices, resell them, and provide installation and maintenance. If a device cannot be repaired economically, or cannot be sold, it will be disassembled and its component pieces sold to a scrap dealer or kept in stock for further repairs. At present, these technicians simply emit the refrigerant during this process because they have no reason not to.
We recover refrigerant, purify it, and re-sell it.
We work with local technicians and scrap dealers to identify and aggregate end-of-life cooling devices, then recover the refrigerant from the devices before they are disassembled. By providing financial incentives to these partners, and aggregating the costs of recovery and purification, we enable a more scalable and efficient approach than the current punitive enforcement laws being considered by developed countries.
The digital platform we are building for internal use will eventually enable a thriving ecosystem for verified refrigerant recovery funded by carbon offsets.