Methodological and Technological issues in Technology Transfer

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Case Study 17

CFC (ODS) Solvent Phaseout in Mexican Electronic Industries
Stephen O. Andersen, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC
Jorge Corona, IMAAC, Mexico

Keywords: Mexico, U.S. EPA, ODS phaseout; Technology transfer North-South (N S); Technology diffusion within the country with potential of a South-South (S S) transfer.

This industrial sector case study exemplifies the Mexican government leadership and technology cooperation by multinational companies to set in place the technology know-how and information necessary to rapidly eliminate CFC solvents used in the Mexican electronic manufacturing industry.

The CFCs were phased out under the Montreal Protocol by using HFCs, which are regulated under the Kyoto Protocol. HFCs have much lower GWP as compared to CFCs. The lesson learned from this technology transfer may be useful for similar transfer under the Climate Change Convention.


In several impressive ways the Government and industry in Mexico supported the stratospheric ozone layer protection and this had motivated technology cooperation. Mexican leadership attracted the support of private companies and the U.S. EPA. Diplomatically, Mexico supported the Montreal Protocol by advocating its passage in 1987, by being the first country to sign the Protocol and by being the first country to complete ratification. With the support of environmental NGOs, the Mexico aerosol industry association "Instituto Mexicano del Aerosol A.C." (IMAAC), organised the first voluntary sectoral phaseout of CFCs by any developing country, achieving the phaseout in cosmetic and pesticide products at least five years faster than the European Union. This recognition caused the industry association to reconsider conventional wisdom and to propose that Mexico phaseout on the same schedule as developed countries rather than taking the additional ten years allowed by the Protocol. At a series of industry workshops, it was identified that the major barriers to phasing out ODS solvents used in Mexican electronics manufacturing were information and access to alternatives, agreement of foreign business partners and customers, and technical implementation. Jorge Corona had been the President of IMAAC at the time of the Mexican aerosol phaseout and also was an expert member of the Montreal Protocol Solvents Technical Options Committee. This joint experience gave the Mexican industry associations full confidence in the technical alternatives to CFC solvents and the ability to help Mexico skip CFC solvents as they expanded and modernised factories, in collaboration with international government and business partners.


The partnership strategy was to fully involve Mexican factory managers and solvent cleaning experts through workshops, technology study tours, and training. Nortel assigned a full-time coordinator to identify barriers and work with the Mexican government and industry authorities to speed technology change.

The leadership of the government of Mexico in announcing a rapid CFC phaseout goal motivated multinational companies to concentrate on modernising their Mexican production facilities. Within three years of starting the project, AT&T built their first CFC-free factory in the world, demonstrating the technical superiority of aqueous cleaning; Nortel built a new factory using "no clean" soldering that eliminated the need to clean with CFCs. The technology was later duplicated throughout the world. With the help of multinational companies and associations, the new ozone-safe technologies were demonstrated and Mexican experts were trained to implement alternatives. The project was ultimately successful when the United States required products made either with or containing ozone-depleting substances to be labelled. As a result of the technology cooperation, Mexican industry was poised for the change when the labelling law took effect. The workshops had educated Mexican experts and helped prepare the infrastructure to accept new technology.

Lessons Learned

The initial slow progress in implementing technology at Mexican factories has four explanations: 1) local companies initially lacked motivation to change, 2) customers of Mexican products were slow to specify environmental criteria, 3) funds from the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol were delayed by government procedures, and 4) CFC solvent suppliers discounted prices and undercut market incentives.

Le Prestre, P.G., J.D. Reid, and E. Thomas Morehouse (eds.), 1998: Protecting the Ozone Layer: Lessons, Models and Prospects. Kluwer Publishers, Dordrecht.
National Academy of Engineering, 1992: Cross-Border Technology Transfer To Eliminate Ozone-Depleting Substances. Report on the International Workshop on Technology Transfer to Eliminate Ozone-Depleting Chemicals, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.
Schmidheiny, S., 1992: Changing Course: A Global Business Perspective on Development and the Environment. The Massachusetts Insitute of Technology Press, Cambridge, MA.
UNEP, 1995: 1994 Report of the Solvents, Coatings and Adhesives Technical Options Committee; 1995 Assessment. United Nations Environment Programme.
UNEP, 1995: 1994 Report of the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel; 1995 Assessment. United Nations Environment Programme.
UNEP, 1999: The Implications to the Montreal Protocol of the Inclusion of HFCs and PFCs in the Kyoto Protocol, HFC and PFC Task Force of the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (October).

Stephen O. Andersen
Director of Strategic Climate Projects
401 M Street SW (6202J)
Washington, DC 20460
Phone: (202) 564-9069
Fax: (202) 565-2135

Jorge Corona
Environmental Commission Vice-Chair
Camara Nacional de la Industria de Transformacion (CANACINTRA)
Cto. Misioneros G-8, Apt. 501
Cd. Satelite, Naucalpan
53100, Edo. de Mex.
Phone: (525) 393-3649
Fax: (525) 572-9346

Ms. Cintia Mosler
Environmental Information Technical Secretary
Cuauhtemoc 84
Col. Toriello Guerra,Del. Tlalpam
14050, México,D.F.
Phone: (52-5)606-1043 or (52-5)606-0793
Fax: (52-5)606-1785

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