A group of Italian refrigeration contractors is taking online retailer Amazon to court for continuing to sell HFC refrigerant without requiring buyers to be F-gas certified.
With the European Commission, EU member governments and authorities across Europe failing to act to stem the flagrant abuses of the F-gas regulations, 18 member companies of Italy’s CNA, the National Confederation of Crafts and Small and Medium Enterprises, have started their own action by taking Amazon to court for illegal F-gas sales.
The plaintiffs claim unfair competition and are asking the Court of Rome, as a matter of urgency, to force Amazon to stop selling F-gas to buyers without the necessary certification. The first hearing has been scheduled for October 11.
The CNA first raised concerns over the issue two years ago, which highlighted how the lack of controls created serious problems of credibility with companies regarding the whole F-gas system.
In March, a presenter on a popular Italian tv station exposed the ease with which anyone without the necessary F-gas qualifications could purchase refrigerant by obtaining an 800g bottle of R410A cylinder from Amazon.
CNA claims that it carried out similar tests, managing to purchase two cylinders of refrigerant from two different sellers through Amazon, one Italian and one German, both without any controls or questions asked by either the sellers or Amazon.
The plaintiffs point to the fact that the F-gas regulation (517/2014) clearly specifies that fluorinated greenhouse gases can only be sold to people and companies in possession of F-gas certification.
In a statement, the CNA says: “Operating in the F-gas sector without having securities and selling to subjects without license in violation of the legislation represents a clear act of unfair competition and determines the possibility of creating a market of suppliers who, in turn, compete illegally with companies regularly certified without any title, thus fuelling an illicit market in the F-gas.”
It adds: “This is an act of unfair competition that risks creating two parallel markets: next to the legitimate one of the qualified operators, another of subjects without the necessary certification. A practice that the applicant companies and the CNA ask to stop as soon as possible to bring the sector back to full legality.”
The Cooling Post has been exposing the widespread abuse of the F-gas system and the authorities’ seeming inability or unwillingness to act. Sales to non-F-gas-certified people is clearly happening on numerous online classified and auction sites across Europe. As prices have risen due to the phase-down, the European market has been witnessing a huge influx of illegal refrigerant, much of it being sold in banned disposable cylinders, with suspected issues of quota busting and incidences of large-scale theft.