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The real impact of HFC smuggling

For criminals, HFC smuggling can be both lucrative and easy.

They are not primarily producers of HFCs. Purchasing HFCs where it is considered legal and then smuggling them into the EU is all they need to do. 

Illegal HFC smugglers are able to do this with the knowledge that customs is often under-resourced and stretched in their pursuit for arms, counterfeit goods and human trafficking. 

When demand remains high, quotas that limit supply always result in an initial increase in cost. 

Traders often look at ways to cut time and costs and purchasing lower cost HFCs is an attractive proposition. But what they often do not know is where the HFCs come from. This can be dangerous as there is no guarantee that the gas is fit for purpose, or even safe to use.

What really happens when they buy black market HFCs?

Smuggled HFCs finance activities of criminal organisations which are frequently involved in smuggling arms, drugs and people. Profits made from HFC smuggling can often fund other dangerous and violent operations.

According to the independent organisation EIA, in 2018, smuggled HFCs added the equivalent of 16.3 million tonnes of CO2 to Europe. This represented more than 16% of the 2018 quota – and is more than the total CO2 emissions of Slovenia.

Based on data analysis by Oxera Consulting LLP, EFCTC estimates that up to 34 million CO2eqT could be illegally imported into the EU every year. This is 33% on top of the legal quota in 2018.

So, this is a serious, and very large problem for planet and for people. HFC smuggling is not a minor offence. It spurs crime and destroys our climate.


Time is running out to tackle this problem.
We must all work together to stop illegal HFC gases.

Contact us – Help stop HFC smuggling

If you have knowledge of, or see, any suspicious or illegal trading activity, report it. We will protect your anonymity and take the necessary steps to investigate.

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Use the anonymous EFCTC integrity line to learn about, and report, illicit HFC activity.

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