WILMINGTON, Del. -- DuPont Co. here will continue producing chlorofluorocarbon-based refrigerants until the end of 1995 at the request of the Clinton administration.
The decision reverses a policy announced this past March when the company said it would cease production of the ozone-depleting compounds by the end of 1994. That date is a year earlier than mandated by the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement regulating the production and use of CFCs.
The effect on the supermarket industry is uncertain, although Du Pont's supply in 1995 should keep prices down. The chemical manufacturing company has the option of making up to 84 million pounds of the compound but says it will only produce enough to satisfy customer orders.
Du Pont has made it clear that it was extending production only at the behest of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"This is not a decision we made lightly," said Joseph Glas, Du Pont's vice president and general manager. "We remain committed to helping our customers make the transition to alternative refrigerants as quickly as possible."
"We've invested over $500 million in alternatives and our clear expectation was that beginning in 1995 the demand for alternatives would be greater and would not necessitate the need for more CFCs," added Kathleen Forte, spokeswoman at Du Pont. "When we announced the acceleration of the phaseout in March, that was based on projections of lack of customer demand [for CFCs]."
"This should not affect Kroger," said Keith Oliver, Kroger's manager of mechanical services.
"Our strategy is to recover CFCs from stores that are being retrofitted with non-CFC refrigerants. I don't know what effect it will have industrywide."
"Du Pont has made a huge, huge total corporate commitment to alternative refrigerants," said Bob Bittner, director of engineering at Giant Food, Landover, Md. "Therefore, you're asking them to put it in neutral and slam it in reverse, while they're still driving it down the street."
"That's a pretty fair statement," said Forte. "Our commitment is to the alternative business. I think an investment of $500 million speaks for itself."