Adrian Beard, as Vice-President of pinfa, presented pinfa’s vision of the “ideal flame retardant” – safe, effective in reducing fire dangers, accessible costs, compatible with polymer performance and quality – recognising that this is an ongoing journey with considerable challenges to address. pinfa is reaching out to stakeholders, including FR users, regulators, R&D, NGOs, to take this forward and to define priority areas of action.
Considerable progress has been made in improving flame retardant safety over the last 20 years, driven by NGOs, scientists and regulators’ concerns about POPs (persistent organic chemicals), indoor air concerns and by flame retardants being found in human bodies or in the environment. This has resulted in a number of flame retardants being regulated: for example 17 FRs restricted under REACH and a further 14 on the ‘candidate list” (including brominated FRs, phosphorus containing, inorganic). However, pinfa’s objective is to move beyond such ‘reactive’ positions, led by regulation, and to find tools to identify flame retardants which offer optimal environmental and health profiles. pinfa works with different independent, third-party tools, including the US EPA’s alternatives to brominated flame retardants assessments, ecolabels, Green Screen, EU-funded R&D projects (such as ENFIRO, see pinfa Newsletter 36). Ecolabel schemes, such as EPEAT (pinfa Newsletter n° 32) or TCO (n° 54), by excluding some or all halogenated FRs, push to develop preferable alternatives.