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Capture potent greenhouse gas for permanent destruction! ESRAG Feral Freon pilot through March 31, 2021




To collect 10,000 pounds of CFC refrigerants such as FreonTM, stored in cylinders or small cans, from companies who have agreed to sell their stockpiles to Tradewater at already-negotiated prices.  Tradewater,  a mission-based environmental project firm,  will destroy these potent greenhouse gases, certify their destruction, and sell the resulting high-quality carbon offsets, for which individual and corporate demand is growing rapidly.  This is a market-driven solution to pollution.  Read Grosse Pointe, Michigan Rotarian Liz Vogel's story about her club's adventure in Freon capture!


September through Q1 2021 as a pilot project for an ESRAG-Tradewater partnership. If both partners are satisfied with the results, we will launch Phase II to locate new stockpiles in the US, and phase III, during which we go international.  ESRAG will leverage the power of Rotary to both help Tradewater track down and destroy the stockpiles, and engage Rotarians, their businesses and communities to purchase the high-quality credits created by CFC destruction. Our goal is the destruction of 1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by the end of 2022, permanently removing these refrigerants as potential greenhouse gas emissions.

Volunteers needed: 

2-4 volunteers from Rotary Clubs within 50 miles of each city in the pilot project (see list, below). Time commitment: 12 hours within a two-week period. Tradewater will provide online training to the volunteers.  The project is conducted outdoors with sound COVID-prevention practices.


Destroying CFCs is a huge, immediate win in slowing global warming: Under the Montreal Protocol, both the manufacture of CFC refrigerants, and the manufacture of the appliances that use them, are now illegal because the gasses damage the ozone layer. They are also incredibly potent greenhouse gases (GHGs). The heat-trapping capacity of one pound of FreonTM is equivalent to 11,000 pounds of CO2, Destroying CFCs has been ranked by Project Drawdown as one of the top most effective strategies to slow global warming.

This project will help ESRAG to make a huge impact, by raising awareness, money, recognition, and membership.

The technological infrastructure and methodology to destroy CFCs are already in place. As an international network, Rotary Clubs have the potential to significantly expand Tradewater’s capacity to find and secure stockpiles and market the offset credits that the CFC destruction creates. The climate benefit of destroying CFCs before they leak is immediate and permanent. Offsets created this way can be certified and are therefore eagerly sought by businesses committed to becoming carbon neutral. 

What does it take to join the campaign?

Not as much as you might think. Tradewater will provide a complete information packet and one-hour online training to volunteers.


Here are highlights: 

  • CFCs are very bad for the environment, but are safe for humans to handle: CFCs are not flammable, explosive, corrosive, toxic or otherwise hazardous.  A canister of CFCs is much safer than a comparable canister of propane for use with your grill. 
  • If you designate this as an official project of your Club, the activity will be covered under RI’s general liability insurance at no extra cost to the Club.
  • You must have a drop-off location in or within 50 miles of the cities listed below. It must be convenient to find and have 12-15 square feet of available, secure storage space.  
  • Volunteers must be willing to give six hours of time on each of two or three different days through September.   
  • You must be willing to transact in cash. Tradewater will wire volunteers the funds to buy the refrigerant. Volunteers will provide transaction receipts equal to the cash advance. 
  • You must have the ability to lift up to 60 pounds. Most cylinders of refrigerant weigh 36 pounds or less. 
  • You must have a scale. Any simple bathroom scale will do. 
  • You must have the ability to complete simple paperwork to document weights and transactions.  

What do I do if I am interested? 

1. Pick a drop site manager from your Club who can communicate directly with Tradewater. 

2. Pick a drop site location. This should be a business – ideally owned by a Rotarian - that already stores compressed gases. Examples include car dealers, HVAC companies, or gas stations. The site should be convenient for people to find, allow for outdoor transactions, and have from 12-15 square feet of secure, available storage space. Each drop site can expect between 3-20 individual sellers to come by. The cylinders are similar in size and shape to propane tanks for a backyard grill. Tradewater has promised a timely pick up after the cylinders/canisters are dropped off. 

3. Pick the dates your volunteers are available for drop offs. We need drop sites to be available for at least two days (4-6 hours each day) and up to as many as four days. These should be days that are convenient for you and the sellers. That may require some evening or weekend options. We will coordinate with Tradewater to see if these work for the people dropping them off.  

After you complete these three basic steps, have your Club’s drop site manager reach out to ESRAG Director Clari Nolet  at or 650-224-4591.

She will put the manager in contact with a Tradewater representative to conduct the training, answer all questions, and get you started. Clari, a member of Los Altos Rotary Club in Northern California, leads ESRAG’s carbon offset initiative. 


The remaining cities in ESRAG’s Feral Freon Pilot, phase I that need help are listed below:

Alabama:  Huntsville, Montgomery

Arkansas:  Little Rock

Florida:  Chipley

Georgia: Marietta, Macon

Illinois: Rockford

Indiana: Evansville, Indianapolis

Kansas:  Wichita

Kentucky:  Louisville

Louisiana:  Baton Rouge

Missouri: Springfield, Cape Girardeau, Jefferson City

Mississippi: Biloxi

North Carolina: Charlotte, Raleigh

New Jersey:  Atlantic City

Nevada:  Las Vegas

Pennsylvania: Harrisburg

Tennessee: Chattanooga, Knoxville

Texas:  Dallas

Virginia:  Richmond, Norfolk

Background and research reports on FreonTM as a greenhouse gas

Under the Montreal Protocol, the refrigerant CFC-12 (brand name FreonTM) has been banned from production in industrialized countries since the early 1990’s because of its destructive impact on the ozone layer, but no mandate was set in place for destroying existing stockpiles. Now, the rapidly growing market in carbon offsets makes it feasible to find, purchase and destroy these stockpiles, and verify the elimination of this extraordinarily potent greenhouse gas.  The result is high-quality, permanent carbon offsets. 

A single 30 -pound cylinder of FreonTM, when it leaks, has the same greenhouse gas impact as burning all the gasoline in two tanker trailers. Cylinders of CFCs stored around the world are a ticking time bomb. Proper collection and disposal of remaining supplies is the equivalent of eliminating over 17 years of U.S. carbon emission.  

The American Carbon Registry offers an excellent overview
of why and how CFC collection and destruction creates high quality, verifiable carbon offset credits. 

ICF Study on Financing the Destruction of Unwanted Ozone-Depleting Substances through the Voluntary Carbon Market (2010).

A significant amount of ODS (ozone depleting substances) still remains in cooling equipment, products, and stockpiles around the world. The high global warming potential of ODS means that their destruction has the ability to generate significant volumes of carbon credits, which can then be sold in the voluntary carbon market. This market creates incentives for the recovery and destruction of ODS through the carbon credits that can be earned. The buyers pay for real and verifiable emission reductions from the destruction of ODS that would have otherwise been emitted.  

ICF Study on The Collection and Treatment of Unwanted Ozone-Depleting Substances in Article 5 and Non-Article 5 Countries (2008). 

The appendix on unwanted ozone-depleting substances draws on case studies from Colombia and India, offering a starting point to envision how Tradewater and ESRAG can work in these countries to locate, collect, aggregate and ultimately destroy CFCs in licensed hazardous waste management facilities.