EU extends ban on lead content to imports / Recyclers receive limited exemption
In a move welcomed by industry, the European Commission has adopted further restrictions on the use of PVC in finished products (see regulation and annex). The relevant legislative initiative was approved by the European Parliament and the European Council in April.

The rules, which ban lead-based stabilisers in any PVC product sold in the EU regardless of origin, would mainly impact imports used by the construction industry, such as window profiles, pipes, wires and cables.

In a press release, European Parliament said lead was phased out of PVC articles manufactured in the EU in 2015 thanks to a voluntary commitment by local industry, but it has still remained in imports.

The regulation includes exceptions for recycling (Photo: EPPA)

The commission said the changes will serve to protect human health and the environment from the toxic effects of lead, prevent up to 8.4 t of lead emissions annually, and level the playing field between imports and EU-made products.

Exceptions to the new rules governing rigid PVC are to be granted for an unspecified period to promote recycling. According to EU calculations, this could save 1.5 mn t/y of CO2 emissions. To ensure such recycling is safe, materials must be “completely covered” by a lead-free layer to prevent accidental exposure to lead.

Exceptions for flexible PVC are not planned.

Related: Heated debate over EU lead restriction proposals

The commission said it will continue to work with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA, Helsinki; www.echa.europa.eu) on means of limiting environmental and human exposure to lead in line with the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability and the European Green Deal.
European PVC industry lauds new rules
Carsten Heuer (Photo: EPPA)
The European PVC Window Profiles and Related Building Products Association (EPPA, Brussels; www.eppa-profiles.eu) welcomed the changes for imports as well as the exceptions for recycling material as a “clear commitment” to a circular economy.

Noting that EPPA member companies had voluntarily eliminated lead stabilisers in their own production in favour of calcium nearly 20 years ago, organisation president Carsten Heuer said the PVC window profile industry also has continuously employed a closed loop to prevent plastics and lead residues from escaping.

In drafting future waste and product legislation, the sector’s achievements should be recognised so companies need not face further hurdles to their business, Heuer added.

VinylPlus (Brussels; www.vinylplus.eu), the European PVC industry’s sustainable development programme, also welcomed the EU move, which it said reinforces the industry’s own efforts toward further reducing the content of harmful additives in its products. Moreover, “allowing lead-containing PVC legacy products to be recycled is a step toward protecting the environment and human health.”
12.05.2023 Plasteurope.com [252724-0]
Published on 12.05.2023
PVC: EU-Kommission verbietet Blei-Stabilisatoren jetzt auch bei ImportenGerman version of this article...

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