Posted on 08/04/2022 in Recycling 2022
Halogenated FRs in China recycled plastics

Based on measurements in plastics samples, tonnages of halogenated FRs in recycled plastics in China were estimated. Total levels of twelve halogenated flame retardants (HFRs)* were measured in 23 samples of recycled plastics, manufactured in five Chinese provinces. Mean total HFR concentrations were approx. 4 – 60 µg/kg for different recycled polymers tested**. For 2014, this resulted in estimates of total c. 3 000 t/y of HFRs in recycled plastics in China. This was around ten times lower than an estimate based on plastics production for the same year (20% of plastics produced estimated to be flame retardant, 250 000 tonnes of FRs used in plastics in China, of which c. 50% halogenated, around 30% plastics recycling). The authors suggest that the difference may result from migration out of plastics during use or recycling. pinfa suggests that the difference may also result from a lower recycling rate for FR plastics (e.g. compared to packaging plastics which are generally not FR).

* PBDEs, DecaBDE, BTBPE = 1,2-bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)ethane and dechlorane plus isomers. **: PVC, polypropylene, ABS, polystyrene and polyethylene.
“The non-negligible environmental risk of recycling halogenated flame retardants associated with plastic regeneration in China”, Z. Cao et al., Science of the Total Environment 646 (2019) 1090–1096

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