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Deadline Looming for Boat Flotation Foam with Hydrofluorocarbon Phases Out in California (USA)
  • 2019-Nov-29

Deadline Looming for Boat Flotation Foam with Hydrofluorocarbon Phases Out in California (USA)

What do boatbuilders need to know?

IMCI was recently informed by the NMMA that Regulation SB 1013 of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) prohibits HFC-134a and other HFCs used as the foam expansion agent in new marine flotation (buoyancy) foam, beginning January 1, 2020.  The prohibition applies to foam that enters into commerce in California, which includes foam manufactured elsewhere and brought into California.  SB 1013 makes no distinction between a foam expansion agent remaining or not remaining in the final product. 

The two questions regarding HFC 134a that boat builders have been asking:

What is the implementation date?

  • Boats manufactured after January 1, 2020 and sold or offered for sale in California cannot have floatation foam containing HFC 134a. 

Is HFC 134a in floatation foam or is it dispersed in the process?

  • CARB’s position is that marine flotation foam is a closed-cell foam, which retains most of its original foam expansion agent. 

CARB commissioned a research study completed in 2011 by Caleb Management Services to determine greenhouse gas emissions from foam.  The final report is available at https://ww3.arb.ca.gov/research/apr/past/07-312.pdf. The research indicates that less than seven percent of marine buoyancy foam expansion agent is emitted at the time of manufacture, less than two percent is emitted during the use phase, and the remaining foam expansion agent is emitted at the boat’s end-of-life (see report’s Figure 3-26, “Baseline Emission Sources in 2020 - Marine & Other”).

If you have any questions, contact John McKnight of the NMMA at +1-202-257-3754 or jmcknight@nmma.org