BSEF Statement on UNEP recommendation on the production and use of HBCD in polystyrene foam in buildings

UNEP Stockholm Convention Committee recommends time-limited exemptions for the production and use of HBCD in polystyrene foam in buildings.

BRUSSELS, 24 October 2012 – On 19 October, the 8th meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee1 (POP RC) adopted a recommendation on the listing of Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) in Annex A of the Stockholm Convention2 with specific exemptions for the production and use of HBCD in expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene in buildings3.

This time-limited exemption for the production and use of HBCD in polystyrene has been recommended to enable time for the market to transition smoothly to alternatives. Whilst alternatives to HBCD have been identified these are at various stages of commercial development. There is still a clear need for a realistic period of transition until a sufficient volume of HBCD alternatives covering the needs of the market becomes commercially available.

The final decision on the listing of HBCD, and any potential exemptions for continued production and use, will be taken at the 6th meeting of the highest decision-making body of the Convention, the Convention of the Parties, in May 2013. If exemptions are granted, as recommended by the POP RC, the use of HBCD in the specified applications would still be permitted for a defined period.

The POP RC recommendation was taken based on the Risk Management Evaluation (RME) adopted in 2011 and on additional information regarding production, use and alternatives to HBCD gathered by the committee4.

BSEF member companies will continue to participate in this UN process through the European HBCD Industry Working Group5. Industry will also continue to promote and implement the SECURE and VECAP6 programmes as best practice in reducing emissions of HBCD to the environment.

1 The POP Review Committee consists of 31 government-designated experts from Parties appointed by the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention (COP).

2 The Stockholm Convention is an international agreement of the United Nations Environmental Programme. Its remit is the identification, evaluation and elimination of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) from the environment. Annex A list substances for Elimination, but allows for specific exemptions for production and use in line with Article 3 of the Stockholm Convention.

3 The adopted decision POPRC-8/3 is available here, included in the document containing all information on HBCD in preparation for COP6:  4The additional information has been adopted as an addendum to the RME and will be made available here:

5 The HBCD Industry Working Group gathers HBCD producers and users in the polystyrene insulation foam sector, the major application of HBCD. The HBCD producers are represented by EFRA (the European Flame Retardants Association) and the HBCD users in the polystyrene insulation industry are members of PlasticsEurope (for expandable polystyrene) and Exiba (for extruded polystyrene).

6 Voluntary Emissions Control Programme: