ChemSec

Electronics Industry Moving Away From Brominated Flame Retardants and PVC – An opportunity for EU to Introduce Restrictions

Press Release  •  May 11, 2010 08:52 BST

A Market Overview presented today by the public interest organisation ChemSec demonstrates that it is possible to replace brominated flame retardants and PVC in a large number of electronic products. The electronics industry has already started to replace these problematic substances and in a couple of weeks EU legislators have a unique opportunity to confirm this transition and restrict brominated flame retardants and PVC from being used in electronics.

Many of the electronic products we all use every day contain hazardous chemicals. Traditionally brominated flame retardants have often been used in electronic products to slow down the spread of fire, and PVC-plastic has been used in cables and casings. However, the use of brominated flame retardants and PVC in electronics is highly problematic from both an environmental and a human health perspective. Less hazardous alternatives are available on the market, meeting the same technical and safety requirements.

EU legislators are now in the process of deciding on future restrictions on hazardous chemicals in electronics. In the review of the RoHS directive, a proposal put forward by the European Parliament rapporteur suggests restrictions on brominated flame retardants and PVC-plastic for a number of electronic products.

The ChemSec report Electronics without brominated flame retardants and PVC - a Market Overview shows that it is technically and economically feasible to replace these substances. The report lists more than 500 product models on the market today, for example mobile phones, computers, washing machines, coffee machines and TVs, free or almost free
from PVC and brominated flame retardants. Products from 28 companies, among them Acer, Apple, HP, Nokia, Philips, Samsung and Sony Ericsson are listed in the report.

– “Since many electronic companies have already removed brominated flame retardants and PVC, EU legislators now have a unique opportunity to restrict the use of these problematic substances in all electronic products and thus show the way for the rest of the electronics industry,” says ChemSec Project Coordinator Frida Hök.  

The European Parliament Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee will vote regarding the recast of the RoHS Directive in the beginning of June, and the vote in the European Parliament plenary is planned for July.

–“An EU restriction on the use of brominated flame retardants in electronics would not only reduce the amount of hazardous substances in our environment, but also has the potential to contribute to new jobs in the EU, as many of the alternatives to brominated flame retardants are produced in Europe,” says ChemSec Director Anne-Sofie Andersson.

www.chemsec.org/rohs/market-overview

ChemSec, The International Chemical Secretariat, is a non-profit organisation founded in 2002 by four leading environmental organisations. At ChemSec, we have an ambitious focus and goal: a toxic free environment by 2020. To achieve this, we strive to reach broad acceptance in society of the key principles of Precaution, Substitution, Polluter Pays and Right to Know.

Our approach involves highlighting the health and environmental risks of hazardous substances and the urgent need to phase them out. Making accurate, science-based information available. Acting as a catalyst for open dialogue between business, authorities and NGOs. And monitoring the progress of legislative processes. Our work includes arranging and participating in conferences, seminars and workshops, in Europe and elsewhere - all geared to stimulating public debate and action on the necessary steps towards a toxic-free world.

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