A court has rejected a challenge by a chemical industry group to the European Union’s prohibition on the sale of televisions that contain halogenated flame retardants in their plastic cases.
The General Court of the EU ruled March 16 against the International Bromine Council (BSEF). The Brussels-based industry group consists of four companies that manufacture halogenated flame retardants: Albemarle, ICL Industrial Products, Lanxess, and Tosoh.
The BSEF sued over what it claims are technical flaws in the EU’s ban on sales of televisions, computer monitors, and other electronic devices encased in plastic that contains halogenated flame retardants. The prohibition took effect in 2021.
Halogenated flame retardants not bound to the structure of a polymer can migrate out of plastic. Exposure to these chemicals is linked to neurological injury in children as well as cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive problems.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, enacted the ban to ensure the presence of brominated flame retardants doesn’t impede the recycling of plastics. The BSEF says the presence of brominated flame retardants doesn’t reduce the recyclability of plastic more than other types of flame retardants, such as organophosphates.
“If we want to create a truly circular economy, we need to focus on real barriers to recycling rather than incorrect ones,” Michael Hack, secretary general of the BSEF, says in an email.
The EU’s General Court dismissed all of the industry group’s arguments and ordered the BSEF to pay the legal costs the European Commission incurred to defend the ban.
New York is following the EU’s lead with a recent state law that, as of 2024, bans the sale of electronic goods in plastic cases with intentionally added organohalogens.