Abstract Sweden has been the pioneer in deciding on general and total phase-out of the use of halocarbons. In response to ozone depletion, phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons was scheduled in 1988 to be complete in 1994. It was decided in 1991 that the toxic solvents methylene chloride, trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene should be phased out by 1996, but perchloroethylene for use in dry cleaning was excluded. The use of ozone-depleting substances, with respect to their ozone-depleting potential, decreased by 75% between 1986 and 1991. The use of toxic solvents, with respect to mass, decreased by 60% during the same period. The decreases shown are partly due to substitution but for the solvents in particular loss reduction has, to date, been more important. It is shown, however, that feasible substitutes are available in almost every application. Some companies have been able to combine the conversion with good business. Obviously, legislation is one driving force in the process. Other possible forces, and some aspects of the influence of authorities, industry and non-governmental organizations in the process, are discussed.