Context: The importation of used but functional refrigerating appliances and air conditioners is one of the biggest hurdles to pursuing more sustainable cooling solutions in Africa. Dumping of products that are at the end of their useful life is prohibited under the Basel Convention. A few countries such as Ghana have banned the importation of used but functional products. However, enforcement is very difficult given the volumes, various points of entry, and other factors. Export markets for used products have no specific measures to address whether used products are headed to a country that has such a used import ban in place. Data is therefore difficult to gather regarding the quantities, age range, refrigerants and energy efficiency of used products entering Africa.
Many consumers largely base their purchasing decision based on the first cost of a product, rather than considering the lifecycle cost of ownership. When products lack accurate energy labels, consumers are not able to make informed decisions beyond the price, features, and input of sales representatives or fellow consumers. New, more energy efficient models are therefore often at a significant competitive disadvantage relative to used products. Furthermore, local customers are more experienced in buying used products and are aware of an existing repair infrastructure. This combination of factors makes it difficult to set and enforce policies that can transform markets toward more sustainable and life-cycle cost-effective cooling solutions. Based on findings in Ghana, Nigeria and other anecdotes, imported units often waste ~ 2 – 3 times as much electricity as new products that are compliant with robust minimum energy performance standards.
In many countries, recycling infrastructure for cooling equipment is inadequate, often leading to major environmental impacts through the open burning of insulation foams and other informal recycling practices. Given the high global warming potential of refrigerants in this equipment, a lack of proper disposal drives significant climate impacts. Sub-standard repair and refurbishment practices may lead to extraction and exchange of the refrigerants directly into the atmosphere and degradation in equipment performance.
Objective: Bring together interested officials and representatives from industry and civil society to:
• Take stock of the current situation of used cooling equipment importation in Africa (referencing available reports / data sets, experiences of local experts, and key findings from meetings)
• Raise awareness on the environmental impacts along the lifecycle of both new and used cooling products in the African context
• Identify relevant resources that are being applied or could readily be applied to address these issues in Africa • Select a set of potential transformative actions that could be undertaken by interested actors
– Lead: Kofi Agyarko, Ghana Energy Commission, email@example.com
– Facilitator: Brian Holuj, Cool Coalition Secretariat, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), firstname.lastname@example.org
Download the working group’s concept note here.