ODS Phaseout in the Country – Foam Manufacturing Sector Phaseout Project

The Executive Committee for the implementation of the Montreal Protocol at its 37th meeting held in July 2002 approved the foam sector phase-out plan at a total funding level of US$ 5,424,577 to phase-out the remaining 612 ODP tonne of CFC-11 in foam manufacturing.UNDP was responsible for implementation of this project.

Industry Structure:The survey of the Foam Sector carried out at the time of the original Country Programme, identified about 235 foam manufacturers in India, using CFCs as blowing agents. About 20% of the enterprises were large/medium-size, while the rest were Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the unorganized and informal sector.

The sub-sectors identified were rigid polyurethane foam, flexible polyurethane foam, integral skin polyurethane foams, thermoplastics foams (extruded polyethylene and polystyrene foams) and phenolic foams. An important sub-sector in the Foam sector, namely, the flexible slab-stock foam mostly converted from CFCs to methylene chloride as the blowing agent during the 1980s due to economic reasons. The domestic refrigerator manufacturers were important users of CFCs in the rigid polyurethane foam sub-sector. Another important sub-sector within the Foam sector, namely rigid polyurethane foam used in the production of insulated thermo-ware (flasks, casseroles, water-bottles, lunch-boxes, etc), was considered important due to the large number of SMEs involved.

There were four major producers of polyol systems, who formed the main upstream source of raw materials for the polyurethane foam manufacturers and met about half of the total demand. The remaining half of the raw material demand was met through imports.

ODS Consumption in Foam Sector : In 1991, the Foam sector consumed 1,580 MT of CFCs (predominantly CFC-11), which amounted to about 31% of India’s total CFC consumption at that time. It was estimated that the demand for foam products would grow at 15-20% annually until 2010. The Foam sector was therefore identified as a priority sector in India for initiating phase-out activities.

Technology : The following substitute technologies have been identified for phasing-out ODS in the Foam sector.Some of the technologies especially the low GWP technologies are still emerging.

Technological options in Foam Sector
Sub-sector Interim Technology Long Term Technology
Flexible Molded PU Foam Water-based Water-based
Integral Skin PU Foam HCFC-142b HFCs Hydrocarbons, Water, Methyl Formate and Methylal
Rigid PU Foam HCFC-141b HFCs Hydrocarbons, Water, Methyl Formate, Methylal
Phenolic Foams HFCs Hydrocarbons, Methyl Formate, Methylal
Thermoplastic Foams HFCs Hydrocarbons, Methyl Formate, Methylal

It was considered strategically important to support the conversion of manufacturing facilities of the polyol system producers on a priority basis, to enable them to customize non-CFC formulations, thus facilitating ODS phase-out in the downstream foam manufacturers more economically. Also, ODS phase-out in the large number of SMEs operating in this sector, many of which were not identified at the time of the Country Programme preparation, was considered to be a challenge.

The accelerated phase-out of HCFCs would require conversion of foam manufacturing facilities from HCFCs to non-HCFCs like hydrocarbons, HFCs, Methyl Formate, Methylal etc.