Industry groups: EU regulation would end e-plastics recycling

A draft European Union law limits traces of a flame retardant in products to such a low level that it would effectively kill e-plastics recycling on the continent, two industry groups said.

The brominated flame retardant in question is called decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE). It has been used in plastics contained in electronics, appliances and vehicles. The European Union (EU) regulates its use in products, including residual levels in recycled plastics.

In March, the European Commission proposed an update to the EU’s laws regarding persistent organic pollutants (POPs). In it, the commission, which is the EU’s executive branch, proposed setting a limit of 10 parts per million of decaBDE in products, with certain exceptions for aircraft, automobiles and electronics. But the proposal does not include a recycling exemption.

The proposal surprised the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) and the European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA), which both said the strict limit would end the recycling of plastics from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and end-of-life vehicles.

“Producing recycled plastics containing less than 10 mg/kg of decaBDE is not technically feasible at industrial scale, even for the best performing operators with whom EuRIC is working,” according to EuRIC’s position paper.



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