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A Toxics-Free Future


Letters to National Governments Regarding PBDE Recycling Exemptions

In 2017, at the Stockholm Convention's 8th Conference of the Parties (COP), the question of whether or not an exemption to use materials containing PentaBDE and OctaBDE to make recycled goods was evaluated. These chemicals are known to disrupt human hormone systems, adversely impacting the development of the nervous system and children’s intelligence.

Decision SC-8/4 from the COP urges Parties to implement the POPRC recommendations (POPRC-6/2); “take determined steps to ensure that brominated diphenyl ethers are not introduced into articles in which their presence would pose a risk of human exposure, in particular consumer products such as children’s toys”; and “accelerate efforts to prevent the export of articles that contain or may contain brominated diphenyl ethers and of articles manufactured from recycled materials that contain brominated diphenyl ethers and levels or concentrations of brominated diphenyl ethers exceeding those permitted for the sale, use, import or manufacture of those articles within their territories, in accordance with their obligations under Annex A.”

Despite this, some countries have continued to use exemptions that allow the recycling of materials that contain PentaBDE and OctaBDE. According to the Stockholm Convention's expert committee, this will result in human and environmental contamination and "in the loss of the long-term credibility of recycling." IPEN therefore undertook activities to encourage the relevant governments to withdraw their exemptions, including analyzing products to determine whether they were contaminated with POPs such as PentaBDE and OctaBDE (resulting analysis: POPs Recycling Contaminates Children's Toys with Toxic Flame Retardants) and writing letters to governmental decision makers (see below), amongst other things.

Some of these activities were part of IPEN’s Toxics-Free Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Campaign. They support SDGs #3 and 12.

Special thanks to IPEN's Latin America & Caribbean Regional Coordinator Fernando Bejarano and Regional Hub RAPAM and Southeast & East Asia Regional Coordinator Lia Esquillo and Regional Hub EcoWaste Coalition for their important contributions to the development and finalization of the project.