Members discussed PIN FRs in products, recycling, chemicals regulations and building fire safety, including with supply-chain organisations and with the European Commission.
In 2023, amongst other projects on PIN FR behaviour, pinfa will launch further testing of mechanical recycling of PIN FR polymer compounds, with Fraunhofer LBF. This follows a first testing campaign covering seven different PIN FRs in five polymers with five extrusion cycles (see pinfa Newsletter n°136).
Heikki Väänänen, European Commission (DG GROW) presented the Commission’s work on building fire safety. Fire safety is a Member State prerogative (subsidiarity), but the EU plays an important role with harmonised fire performance standards under the Construction Products Regulation (CPR), and by coordinating specific projects on fire safety. Fire safety remains a core objective of the CPR in the revision regulatory proposal. The Commission is pursuing development of a harmonised large-scale fire test method for building façade systems, because there are currently around ten different national tests. Building insulation is growing fast, especially in renovation, in order to achieve energy savings objectives, but can pose considerable fire dangers. Round-robins for the new tests will start in 2023. The reports of the EU FireStat project, on coordinating EU fire statistics, are now published (see below). Work is ongoing with JRC on performance-based design for fire safety, with a report expected soon. Questioned about smoke toxicity, Mr. Väänänen noted that a study for the European Commission (2017, see pinfa Newsletter n°89) concluded that standards on smoke toxicity were currently not needed in the CPR as it seems that the Member States do not have plans to regulate this aspect.
Celia Gryspeirt, Industrial Minerals Europe, discussed regulatory developments in the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (part of the Green Deal) which could potentially impact mineral PIN FRs. Nanoparticles will be increasingly subject to regulation. A new JRC Guidance on nanoparticles is expected to exclude natural industrial minerals consisting of crystallites, but not if the materials have been ground to the nanoscale, nor engineered “nano-clays”. A new definition of “Poorly Soluble Low Toxicity Particles” (PSLTP, see e.g. Mundt et al. 2022 and ECETOC 2013) may clarify that many minerals have a low “bio-solubility”, but could also lead to the question of whether a classification for the inhalation endpoint is needed for widely used minerals (based on read-across from titanium dioxide).
Michael Cassart, Plastics Europe, presented the plastics industry’s sustainability objectives. Safety and all forms of recycling (mechanical, chemicals) are key to reach circularity and sustainability goals and require collaboration with the value chain: additives producers, including flame retardants, end-users, collectors, sorting and recyclers. The Green Deal will have important impacts on the plastics industry through the announced obligation of REACH registration of certain polymers (and some form of lightweight notification of all polymers, still under discussion), as well as, for all relevant chemicals, the introduction of Generic Risk Assessment combined with the Essential Use concept.