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Legal loophole may reintroduce banned flame retardants through recycled materials

29 NGOs call on the European Commission to ban the recycling of materials containing toxic flame retardants. This in the light of a recent proposal which suggests the possibility to recycle materials containing the toxic flame retardant DecaBDE. As the Commission clearly intends to work towards a circular economy this is particularly interesting,

An implementation of the proposal would mean an exemption from both REACH restriction and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The NGO coalition finds this to be deeply worrying since it would lead to prolonged and uncontrolled exposure of humans and the environment to a very persistent and harmful substance.

– It’s contradictory that the EU is aiming to implement circular economy, but at the same suggest legal loopholes that will reintroduce known toxic substances in recycled materials. In the end, these recycled materials will be less attractive both for consumers and producing industries, says Frida Hök, ChemSec policy advisor.

DecaBDE is mainly used in plastics for electronic equipment and in textiles. According to the Stockholm Convention Review Committee, DecaBDE is bioaccumulative and persistent and has adverse effects on the hormone, reproductive, and nervous systems. It also appears on the EU Candidate List and on the SIN-list as a substance with endocrine disruptive effects.

In an open letter addressed to Commissioner Vella the coalition writes that: “Recycling DecaBDE-containing products would allow a re-injection of this hazardous chemical into the production cycle and create an endless hazardous legacy. The new contaminated products will be almost impossible to track and DecaBDE will be given a second chance to be released into the environment and wildlife, and to endanger human health.”

The EU’s final position on the matter will be discussed at the next meeting of ECHA’s committee for socio-economic analysis (SEAC) on 8-11 September.

Read the press release

Read the NGO letter