justice, chemical safety and zero waste, today conveyed its apprehension over
the European Union’s proposal to recycle products laden with toxic flame
At the ongoing United Nations-sponsored meeting of chemicals treaties in
Geneva, Switzerland, the EU has pushed dangerous cleanup standards for three
toxic flame retardant chemicals (HBCD, PentaBDE, and OctaBDE) that are widely
used in building insulation, upholstery and electronics.
African countries and civil society groups led by IPEN, a global NGO network
that includes the EcoWaste Coalition, expressed deep concern regarding the EU
proposal to recycle products containing toxic flame retardants into new
products such as children’s toys, food containers and soft furnishings.
The EU proposal will allow toxic recycled products to be used by EU consumers
and, then exported to developing countries as waste, transferring the toxic burden
from richer countries to poor countries where the capacity to deal with
contaminated waste is limited and where they will potentially add to health
problems and hamper poverty reduction, IPEN stated.
“We find this type of recycling unacceptable as this could lead to our children
being exposed to toys and other consumer and household goods laden with toxic
chemicals that can interfere with the healthy development of their bodies and
brains,” said retired chemist Sonia Mendoza, President of the EcoWaste
“Like the African countries, the Philippines should be wary of such dirty recycling
which could result in unwanted toxic products in Europe and elsewhere being
sent to local factories and disposal sites under the cover of recycling,” she
“The EU should instead support the call for swift elimination of flame
retardant chemicals from recycling,” she said.
All three toxic chemicals are listed in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent
Organic Pollutants (POPs) for global elimination.
They are ubiquitous in the environment globally and can disrupt human hormone
systems, creating potential adverse effects on the development of the nervous
system and children’s IQ.
Ironically, the waste cleanup limit for
polychorlinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other substances already listed in the Stockholm
Convention is 20 times safer than the current EU proposal for flame retardants,
despite the fact that they are all similarly toxic.
Citing the San Antonio Statement signed by over 200 scientists from 30 countries,
the EcoWaste Coalition noted that “when brominated and
chlorinated flame retardants burn, high yields of extremely toxic brominated,
chlorinated, and bromochlorinated dioxins and furans are formed, indicating
that combusting waste containing certain consumer products can lead to the
generation of highly toxic substances that have been found in human milk, food,
Expert advisors to the EU noted that under the EU proposal, none of the current
PentaBDE wastes would qualify for cleanup. The EU appears to be designing a
standard to avoid cleanup actions on the world’s most toxic chemicals.
Jindrich Petrlik from Arnika Association said:
“As an EU-based public interest NGO we find it shameful to see the EU violating
the integrity of the Stockholm Convention, and putting economic interests
before human health and the environment. This is poisoning the circular