Commission authorises DEHP use for recycled soft PVC

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Photo by Andrealopezb, used under a Creative Commons licence. DEHP is used to soften PVC for uses such as flooring.

The European Commission has granted authorisation to three recycling companies to use the phthalate plasticiser DEHP in recycled soft PVC.

The Commission’s final decision follows an assessment by its Reach Committee. Members of the European Parliament had earlier passed a non-binding resolution asking the Commission not to grant authorisation to DEHP, due to concerns that the plasticiser may be an endocrine disruptor.

“Recycling should not justify the perpetuation of the use of hazardous legacy substances,” the MEPs said in November 2015.

The Commission announced its decision on 20 April to grant a four-year authorisation for uses of DEHP in recycled soft PVC in compounds and dry-blend to VinyLoop Ferrara (based in Italy), Stena Recycling (Sweden) and Plastic Planet (Italy).

The European Council for Plasticisers and Intermediates (ECPI) said it welcomed the decision. It said the decision is in accordance with the EU’s Reach regulation of chemicals, and it endorses a recommendation by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to grant authorisation of DEHP in recycled articles.

“We are pleased to see that the European Commission has taken its decision based on ECHA expert committees’ recommendation which came after a thorough evaluation of both scientific and socio-economic data,” said ECPI spokesperson Michela Mastrantonio.

“This decision is of great value for the PVC supply chain and represents an important positive precedent towards legislative consistency and predictability. This also confirms European Commission’s commitment to the Circular Economy and the recognition of science as crucial on such a technical dossier. PVC recycling contributes to a more efficient use of our resources and the reduction of emissions bringing huge benefits to the environment,” said Mastrantonio.

But European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a Brussels-based environmental organisation, said the authorisation “imposes strict conditions on these companies in order for them to reapply for authorisation after the review period as it obliges downstream users to make monitoring and biomonitoring information available to ECHA before 31 December 2016”.

Dolores Romano, EEB senior policy officer for chemicals, said that even with the Commission’s conditions, “we deeply regret this decision as it not only breaches the Reach Regulation, but also establishes a very negative precedent that compromises upcoming decisions and undermines the aims of Reach to ensure that toxic substances are replaced by safer alternatives".

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