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Consumer Products

Industry group calls for European Commission to drop ban on halogenated flame retardants in electronics

These chemicals are properly registered in the EU, bromine organization says

by Cheryl Hogue
December 23, 2019

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Credit: Shutterstock
The European Commission is banning the sale of televisions containing halogenated flame retardants so their plastic casings can be recycled more easily.

The bromine chemicals industry is calling on the European Commission to remove its ban on sales of televisions and other electronics that contain halogenated flame retardants in their casings.

The International Bromine Council, which represents industrial producers and users of this element, says the ban is unjustified because it targets flame retardants that are properly registered chemicals in the European Union. These chemicals are not subject to regulatory restriction, the group says.

The commission, the executive arm of the EU, claims that the presence of halogenated flame retardants in electronic device casings hinders recycling of this plastic. Elimination of these flame retardants will remove a barrier to the circular economy, in which discarded products become raw material for new ones, it says.

Kevin Bradley, secretary-general of the International Bromine Council, acknowledges that plastics that contain brominated flame retardants have to be separated and treated separately under the EU’s electronic waste regulation. But that doesn’t stop these plastics from getting recycled, he says. “This is being well managed by innovative plastics and polymer recyclers.”

The industry group Plastic Recyclers Europe did not respond to a request for comment by C&EN’s deadline.

As of 2021, the EU will require that plastics containing flame retardants and used in electronics be marked with an abbreviation for the polymer they contain plus the letters “FR” and a code number for the flame retardant.

Consumer and health advocates say the commission’s actions will protect people from exposure to flame retardants, some of which can migrate out of plastic. Concerns have ramped up for years about potential adverse effects of halogenated flame retardants on human health and the environment, including endocrine disruption.

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