Ottawa, Canada – Only a small group of countries continues taking advantage of a loophole in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) that allow banned chemicals like toxic flame-retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in recycling. Canada is one of them. These toxic polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) flame retardant chemicals were banned globally many years ago.
Environmental Health Groups Celebrate the End to EU Allowance for Banned Flame Retardant Chemicals to Enter Recycling Streams & New Products
(Gothenburg, Sweden) The European Union (EU) has taken an important step towards cleaning up its recycling; it will no longer allow materials containing a class of toxic, globally banned flame retardants known as PBDEs to be recycled. Researchers had revealed that across Europe, alarming levels of toxic banned flame retardants and related chemicals, which originated largely from discarded electronics equipment, were contaminating the recycling stream and new consumer goods made from recycled plastics. Environmental health advocates applaud the EU’s decision and encourage the six remaining countries with PBDE recycling exemptions to follow suit.
(Anchorage, Alaska, US): With a unanimous vote, the Anchorage Assembly passed Assembly Ordinance 2019-15(S), an ordinance prohibiting certain consumer products containing flame retardant chemicals at the March 19 regular assembly meeting. This landmark public health ordinance now stands among the strongest laws in the nation.
“One of the core values of ACAT is the elimination of chemicals that harm environmental and human health and to replace them with safe alternatives,” said Pamela Miller, Executive Director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) and Co-Chair of IPEN. “There is considerable peer-reviewed scientific information about the adverse health effects of flame-retardant chemicals including cancer and neurodevelopmental and reproductive toxicity. This ordinance moves our city one step closer to eliminating the unnecessary use of harmful flame retardants in all household products. We appreciate the work of the Anchorage Assembly to achieve its passage,” she said.
With six other health and environment groups, IPEN has written a letter to European Environment Ministers and members of the EU Parliament and Commission to express concerns about toxic recycling. In the letter, the NGOs call on them to adopt strict and protective limits for PBDEs in articles and waste into the POPs Regulation, so that the EU will comply with its obligations stemming from the Stockholm Convention.
This letter addresses the European Parliament and Council decision on the reform of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that was announced in late February. Hailed as protective for health, the decision will actually cause more children to be exposed to hazardous flame-retardant chemicals associated with thyroid disruption and neurological deficits. The decision permits high levels of hazardous brominated flame retardants (PBDEs) that are in electronics waste, including those already banned by the Stockholm Convention, to be allowed in recycled plastics.
Environmental health researchers released alarming evidence  today that toxic brominated flame retardants, hazardous chemicals from electronic waste that are known to disrupt thyroid function and cause neurological and attention deficits in children, are contaminating recycled plastics in consumer products across Europe.
The report release coincides with a crucial vote in the European Parliament to establish and re-evaluate recycling exemptions for POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) in waste and with the European Commission’s revision of POPs waste limits. Both decisions will determine whether toxic waste materials, such as e-waste containing brominated flame retardants, will be allowed in recycled plastics.