Happy 50th Anniversary
April 1988 - Association Commits to Phase Out CFCs by end 1989
Beginning from the mid-1970s, atmospheric scientists around the world began to express concern about the effect of emissions of man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) on the earth’s ozone layer. At the time, these chemicals were widely used in the refrigeration industry, in foam blowing and also in many aerosols.
As the peak national industry association representing the manufacturers and marketers of aerosol products, the Association closely monitored this evolving knowledge, liaising with other manufacturing sectors and with its overseas peers.
From 1977, it also supported the work of local atmospheric scientist Dr Paul Fraser (pictured below), who was to achieve international recognition for his work studying the effects of man-made chemicals on the ozone layer. The Association worked with him to better understand the science of ozone depletion as it examined alternative propellants.
This knowledge, combined with strong leadership by the Association’s Executive Committee and the support of its membership, allowed it in April 1988 to issue an undertaking to phase out the use of CFCs in local aerosols by the end of 1989. This excluded agreed ‘essential use’ products such as asthma inhalers.
Dr Fraser was awarded the prestigious Eureka Prize for Environmental Research in 1995 and the US EPA Ozone Protection Award in 2002. Read more.
In 1978, he initiated the Cape Grim Air Archive, a unique collection of air samples from Cape Grim, northwest Tasmania. Every three months, researchers filled stainless steel flasks with about 1,000 litres of pristine air, which was then stored in the Cape Grim Air Archive at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research in Aspendale, Victoria. Read more.
In a message delivered to the Association’s 50th Anniversary Cocktails in April 2014, Dr Fraser observed:
I would like to say how proud I am to have worked and been associated with the Aerosol Association over most of these 50 years. Your Association is an exemplary industry support group and your approach to maintain an environmentally responsible and sustainable industry has been an inspiration to many.”
In 1985, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was signed and two years later, on 16 September 1987, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed.
Together they set out to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in order to reduce their abundance in the atmosphere, and thereby protect the earth’s fragile ozone layer.
In December 1987, the Association issued a public pledge that it would better the phase down commitments in the Protocol and in April 1988 it undertook to cease the use of CFCs in all aerosols - except for essential use products – by the end of 1989; a target well in advance of Australia’s commitments under the Montreal Protocol. (Read more about Australia’s contribution to preserving the ozone layer.) This undertaking was later followed by a pledge to cease use of another ozone depleting chemical, methyl chloroform. Both undertakings were subsequently given legal force in Federal ozone protection legislation.
At the same time, via its public relations efforts, it was working to inform the Australian public that four out of five local aerosols did not contain CFCs and that the Australian industry had already voluntarily reduced its use of CFCs by 70 percent since 1974 (see chart).
The Montreal Protocol is acknowledged as a powerful illustration of what can be achieved when governments, the science community and industry come together on a global basis and has been hailed by Kofi Annan (former Secretary General of the United Nations) as “perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date".
By its actions, the Aerosol Association demonstrated what is achievable with strong, informed and pro-active industry leadership. Leadership that the Association looks forward to providing the Australian aerosol industry over the next 50 years!
“Producing a safe and environmentally responsible product has to be at the centre of our thinking as companies and as an association” – John Bigley, President, Aerosol Association of Australia.
Photo of Dr Paul Fraser courtesy of Monash University.