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International Bromine Council – BSEF, calls on European Commission to remove unwarranted ban on halogenated flame retardants (HFRs) in Ecodesign, E-Display Regulation

Date

05 Dec 2019

Sections

Energy
Climate & Environment

Today, the European Commission published its new eco-design requirements for electronic displays - Directive 2009/125/EC 1.These requirements include an unprecedented ban on halogenated flame retardants (HFRs) in enclosures and stands of displays coming within the scope of the regulation.

It is unjustified and disproportionate and not coherent with EU legislation on chemicals as it targets a whole class of flame retardants, including several brominated flame retardants, and bans them even though they are correctly registered and not subject to any regulatory restriction.

“The European Union has legislative instruments for addressing restriction of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment and it’s called RoHS. Equally, REACH provides for the restriction of chemical uses in articles and products” noted Dr Kevin Bradley of BSEF. “Clearly, the Commission has made a mistake and it needs to correct it”, he added.

The main rationale for including a ban on the use of HFRs in enclosures and stands of electronic displays was that they hinder recycling of WEEE plastics. BSEF refutes this completely. “The facts on the ground within the recycling industry do not support this”, noted Dr Bradley. “Yes, BFR-containing plastics do have to be separated and treated separately under the EU WEEE Directive, but this is being well managed by innovative plastics and polymer recyclers”, he said.

BSEF and its member companies fully support the European Commission efforts to improve product design for material and energy efficiency that can help meet the challenges of climate change and the circular economy. However, BSEF believes this ban has no benefit whatsoever with respect to either objective.

BSEF will therefore work towards having this ban removed.

Note to Editors - Commission rationale for ban on HFRs – BFRs are hindering recycling of plastics from WEEE

The recycling of End-of-Life Electronics follow a process, that is described clearly in the European TAC guidance document Annex II and article 6.1 of Directive EC/2002/96:

“Substances, preparations and components may be removed manually, mechanically or chemically, metallurgically with the result that hazardous substances, preparations, and components and those mentioned in Annex II are contained as an identifiable stream or identifiable part of a stream at the end of the treatment process. A substance, preparation or component is identifiable if it can be (is) monitored to prove environmentally safe treatment.”

The entire recycling industry of End-of-Life Electronics has developed following this guidance.

The majority of the WEEE plastics parts of electrical and electronic equipment does not contain Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) and of the approximately 5–10 % that do contain BFRs, only c. 30 % consists of POP BFRs (restricted under the Stockholm Convention). Deca-BDE and the group of the PBDE’s have been used intensively in electronics in the past and the EU recycling industry has to deal with this legacy of PBDE’s. The requirements of the WEEE Directive means they must be separated from non-BFR plastics (meaning even non restricted FRs in WEEE plastics are also be separated). Recycling of WEEE plastics containing BFRs is being undertaken in accordance with the relevant CEN standards2.

The innovative EU plastics recycling industry in collaboration with the Horizon 2020 financed project PolyCEhave developed systematic sorting and separation concepts in order to produce RoHS and REACH compliant Post-Consumer-Recycled plastics from these complex mixes of plastics from WEEE (Waste of Electric and Electronic Equipment). The separated plastics containing the restricted POP BFRs are eliminated in appropriate incineration processes, in line with the relevant Basel Convention guideline documents.

In summary, BFRs are not hindering Waste of Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) plastic recycling.

BSEF and its member companies have supported and are supporting a range of H2020 projects all designed to further improve the efficiency and yield of plastics recycling from WEEE and automotive plastic waste. A particularly relevant example here is the “Close WEEE Project”4 co-funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. This project focused on increase the recovery yield of PC-ABS and ABS to 80% of their content in the WEEE plastic input. Other projects such as CREATOR (successor to Close WEEE), PLASTIC2bCLEANED (labscale) and PSLOOP5 (demoplant) are all additional examples of the industry value chain’s drive to improve the quality of recycled plastics from WEEE and other products.

Contact

Dr Kevin Bradley, Secretary General
T: +32 2 436 9600 |  E : 
kbradley@bsef.org

About BSEF

BSEF – the International Bromine Council, is the global representative body for bromine producers and producers of bromine technologies. Originally founded in 1997, BSEF works to foster knowledge on the societal benefits of bromine and its applications. The members of BSEF are Albemarle Corporation, ICL Industrial Products, Lanxess and Tosoh.

Further information: Visit www.bsef.org to learn more and follow BSEF on Twitter @BromineInfo for the latest news and information.

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