EU legislators (Parliament and Council) have agreed modifications to the POPs Regulation (Persistent Organic Pollutants, EC 850/2004) to implement updates of the UN Stockholm Convention (see pinfa Newsletter n°81), in particular adding the brominated flame retardant DecaBDE to the POPs Regulation, with an “unintentional trace” level of 10 ppm. The combined level of all PBDE flame retardants is set at 500 ppm, with a review clause requiring an assessment of the environmental and health impact of this level. Some exemptions are specified for aircraft, motor vehicles and electronic equipment. These levels represent a compromise between demanding safety limits, and feasibility of recycling of plastics, because secondary plastics may contain traces of these substances because sorting of waste plastics containing brominated flame retardants is never 100% exact. However, the debate over brominated flame retardant contamination in recycled plastics is not over, and environmental NGOs worldwide have written to the Stockholm Convention requesting that the EU withdraw its recycling exemptions for the brominated FRs TetraBDE, PentaBDE, HexaBDE and HeptaBDE.
European Council press release 19/2/2019 “Persistent organic pollutants: Provisional agreement on the world’s most dangerous pollutants” https://www.consilium.europa.eu/fr/press/press-releases/2019/02/19/persistent-organic-pollutants-provisional-agreement-on-the-world-s-most-dangerous-pollutants/
“Withdrawing the Stockholm Convention recycling exemptions for TetraBDE, PentaBDE, HexaBDE and HeptaBDE”, environmental NGOs letter (Arnika, CIEL, EEB, HEAL, IPEN …), 23 April 2019 https://ipen.org/news/immediate-action-withdraw-exemption and https://ipen.org/sites/default/files/documents/ngo_letter_eu_pbde_recyling_exemption_23042019.pdf