In mid-June, the EU Council of Ministers approved a new version of the regulation on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and issued a press release. The new version replaces Regulation (EC) No 850/2004. The goal of the revision is stricter control of brominated flame retardants like decaBDE, which is frequently used in plastic electronics and auto parts.
The POP Regulation is binding on all member states of the EU. The road to the new version was arduous. The controversial issue was the limit for polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), including decaBDE. The European Parliament had first suggested a limit of 10 mg/kg or 0.001% by weight in substances, mixtures, and objects. However, this value is considerably lower than that of the 0.1% allowed by REACH.
Numerous organizations, including associations of the automobile and recycling industry, were up in arms. They charged that the strict limit would make it virtually impossible to recycle automobiles and electronic devices. They expressed their concerns in a joint letter and called for a more generous threshold.
The EU agreed to the request. The current version sets a limit of 1,000 mg/kg for the total of PBDEs in waste. Nevertheless, the EU Commission will evaluate this upper limit and may cut it half, to 500 mg/kg in the next two years. France and Sweden called for the reduction in a joint statement.
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