The ozone layer is a fragile shield of gas that protects the earth from the harmful rays of the sun. Less ozone layer protection from the ultraviolet (UV) radiations from the sun will, over time, damage crops and lead to higher skin cancer and cataract rates.
Understanding Ozone-Depleting Substance and its Danger
To understand more about Ozone-Depleting substances, we need to understand the ozone itself. Ozone is a molecule that contains three oxygen atoms and occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level. At ground level, ozone is a harmful pollutant because of the effects it has on people and the environment. This is the main ingredient in “smog”, a mix of smoke and fog that reduces visibility and is harmful when inhaled, especially for people with respiratory problems.
While the stratospheric ozone is considered good ozone that occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere. The ozone layer in the stratosphere absorbs a portion of the radiation from the sun, preventing it from reaching the earth’s surface. It also absorbs a portion of UV lights called UVB that has been linked to many harmful effects like skin cancers, cataracts and can cause harm to some crops and marine life.
A number of commonly used chemicals have been found to be extremely damaging to the ozone layer. These chemicals release chlorine or bromine when they are exposed to intense UV light in the stratosphere and destroy ozone molecules. The chemical compounds are called Ozone-Depleting Substances (ODS) for their role in depleting the ozone layer. ODS that releases chlorine include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform. While ODS that release bromine include halons and methyl bromide.
We can find these substances on many different appliances from the refrigerator and air conditioner (CFCs and HCFCs), fire extinguisher (HCFCs and halons), to aerosol propellants (CFCs and HCFCs). Ozone-Depleting substances can also be found in the imported and exported activities that are the methyl bromide for fumigation of soil, structure, and goods.
The production of most Ozone-Depleting Substances has been phased out under the Montreal Protocol. Finalized in 1987, the Montreal Protocol is a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the reproduction and consumption of Ozone-Depleting Substances. By 2009 the Montreal Protocol became the first treaty in the history of the United Nations to achieve universal ratifications.
PT Pupuk Kaltim’s Efforts to Reduce Ozone-Depleting Substance
PT Pupuk Kalimantan Timur (Kaltim), a state-owned enterprise, is taking a step in following the Montreal Protocol and Presidential Decree No, 23/1992 and contributed to reducing the use of materials containing Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS). The company over the year has gradually reduced the use of a refrigerant that contains ODS on air conditioners and light fire extinguishers within the company. All applied to every level of the company from factories, offices to employee housing areas.
The company also carries out routine maintenance of all air conditioners and fire extinguishers every year. They would check each unit, and those that are no longer suitable for use are replaced by a unit that uses more environmentally friendly materials and does not contain ODS. They would take special care in the maintenance process by preparing competent human resources who understand the importance of ozone protection. This is indicated by the readiness of personnel who have certification of refrigeration and air conditioning technicians for maintenance and replacements of units and refrigerants according to the periodic maintenance period.
“All these efforts were made by Pupuk Kaltim as a form of support for the Montreal Protocol which was also signed by Indonesia in the Vienna Convention and the realization of a joint commitment to reduce the rate of depletion of the ozone layer,” said Hanggara Patrianta, PT Pupuk Kaltim Director of Operation and Production as reported from Warta Ekonomi.
Regarding the health of the earth’s atmosphere, PT Pupuk Kaltim doesn’t just stop at reducing Ozone-Depleting Substances. They also participate in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute greatly to climate change. Their 31 greenhouse gas emission mitigation programs successfully reduced the company emissions by 758,234.58 tons of CO2 equivalent back in 2020. The program covers a lot of the company’s industrial activities from energy efficiency, to the use of renewable energy, and waste management.
Written by: Safaanah