The European plastics industry has reacted with dismay to moves at the European Parliamentto demand special assessments for the use of PVC in electrical and electronic equipment.Industry body PlasticsEurope says such checks would go beyond the requirements of Reach,the EU’s chemical control system. Wilfried Haensel, the association’s executive director,said: “We are very disappointed that yet again we face a proposal that has no basis in sound scientific evidence or care for appropriate methodology.”
He said restricting a material outside the Reach system “is just another example of scaremongering which would have a significant and unjustified negative impact on the European economy.”
His comments followed the approval of amendments by the parliament’s environment committee to the EU’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive.
Green MEPs pushed hard for PVC to be subject to extra checks, stressing that waste equipment was often exported to poor countries for disposal, where environmental standards could be weak.
British Green MEP Jill Evans said: “I am glad that, despite heavy pressure from the chemical industry, the environment committee has today voted for certain problematic substances to be highlighted for further review and a possible ban.”
Under the system sought by the committee, the European Commission would largely be responsible for proposing and assessing detailed restrictions for using PVC in electrical and electronic goods.
Calling for the EU to instead rely on Reach controls and risk assessments, Wilfried Haensel said: “We have more than 50 years experience in dealing with PVC, making it one of the most studied and tested materials on the planet. It is proved to be safe for use and we are still committed to its continuous innovation.”
The amendments will now be considered by a full plenary session of the parliament in July,and also have to be backed by the EU Council of Ministers to become law.
Haensel said he was “confident” MEPs and ministers would ultimately take his organisation ’s advice and approve a RoHS system “based on sound scientific data and prevent an unnecessary cost burden to European society”.