UNEP lists HBCD as a Persistent Organic Pollutant with temporary exemptions

On 2 May at its 6th meeting, the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UNEP1Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants agreed on the listing of Hexabromocyclododecane(HBCD)2. The COP agreed to list HBCD as a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP) for elimination (i.e. in Annex A3 of the Convention), with time-limited exemptions for production and use in expanded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulation foams in buildings. The decision4 will be formally adopted on 10 May at the closing session of the COP.

The decision of the COP states that HBCD will be listed in “…Annex A with specific exemptions for production as allowed for the parties listed in the register of specific exemptions and for use in expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene in buildings…”In addition the decision requires each Party that decides to use the exemption “…shall take necessary measures to ensure that the EPS and XPS containing HBCD can be easily identified by labelling or other means throughout its life-cycle.”

The industry organisation Bromine Science and Environmental Forum (BSEF)5 welcomes the decision of the COP of the UNEP Stockholm Convention to list HBCD as a POP for elimination with time-limited exemptions. All of its members are committed to substituting HBCD with sustainable alternatives and the exemptions will provide downstream users with the time that they need to ensure a smooth transition to such alternatives.

Polystyrene foams represent a unique class of insulation materials designed to save and conserve energy in construction and building, and improve quality of living. Thermal insulation has been identified as one of the most cost effective means of improving energy efficiency and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Polystyrene insulation foams therefore play a key role in helping governments meet global, regional and national environmental targets. Effective flame retardants help meet the stringent fire safety regulations required of polystyrene insulation foams, and protect human lives and property from fire.

Each of the BSEF member companies is committed to providing customers with flame retardants that are sustainable, efficient and tailored to their needs. For several years BSEF’s individual member companies have worked hard to find a sustainable flame retardant for use in polystyrene insulation foams, the major use of HBCD in Europe and around the world. Regulatory authorities around the world, who are responsible for the assessment of new chemical substances, have approved a new polymeric brominated flame retardant for commercial production. This new polymeric flame retardant provides the stability needed to ensure polystyrene insulation foams are effectively flame retarded throughout their long service life. BSEF understands that its member companies expect to be able to meet the needs of polystyrene foams producers for this new polymeric flame retardant, facilitating an orderly transition under the Stockholm Convention and relevant national legislation.


During the transition period, BSEF will continue to work with downstream users to promote and implement the Voluntary Emissions Control Action Programme – VECAP6 which reduces emissions of brominated flame retardants to the environment through the application of best practices.

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For more information, please contact:

Xanthe Visram, Communications Manager

Tel: +32 (0)2 743 6639,


[1] UNEP: United Nations Environment Programme.

[2] Hexabromocyclododecane, CAS N° 25637-99-4 & CAS N°3194-55-6

[3] Annex A lists substances for Elimination, but allows for specific exemptions for production and use in line with Article 3 of the Stockholm Convention.

[4] The final decision will be made available on the UNEP Stockholm Convention website here:

[5] BSEF is the international organisation of the bromine chemical industry, whose remit is to inform stakeholders and commission science on brominated chemicals such as flame retardants.

[6] Voluntary Emissions Control Programme: