Lein Tange, ICL-IP and EFRA, explained the importance of the Circular Economy for the sustainability of the flame retardant industry. Flame retardants will increasingly need to be compatible with recycling. This is pushed by standards such as IEC111 and TC111x material resource efficiency standards, EcoDesign requirements (which are a key element of the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package, published 2/12/2015), and by objectives fixed by sustainability policies of equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and plastics user industries.
The Circular Economy will also push for increasing use of bio-based polymers and flame retardants. These objectives are coherent with the stewardship programme VECAP developed by industry which has shown considerable success in limiting emissions during manufacture and downstream application (compounding, polymer use) and in avoiding uncontrolled landfill.
Lein Tange underlines the contradictions between plastics recycling and the today’s tendencies to miniaturisation and specialisation in electronics and other equipment, with increasingly complex and varied combinations of polymers and additives. Also, the push for non-persistent flame retardants is contradictory to producing chemicals which are sufficiently resilient to resist re-processing in recycling. Above all, recycling requires a long term vision of flame retardant products: it is important that today’s alternative FR does not become tomorrow’s problem in recycling.