Which EU legislation currently regulates the use of brominated flame retardants?
You will find below an outline of the European legislation that concerns brominated flame retardants (BFRs).
On 18 December 2006, the Council of Ministers adopted a new EU regulatory framework for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). REACH aims to improve the protection of human health and the environment while maintaining the competitiveness and enhancing the innovative capability of the EU chemicals industry. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) was launched on 1 June 2008, and is formally responsible for the operation of REACH., When REACH (Regulation EC No 1907/2006) came into force, it revoked and replaced Council Regulation (EEC) 793/93 on Existing Substances.
More details on the operation of the REACH regulation can be found on the following websites:
- Registration of substances produced in or imported to the EU in quantities of one ton or more per year. Registration requires the industry to provide information on the properties, uses and other necessary information on chemicals. In order to register, a dossier must be submitted to the European the Chemical Agency’s (ECHA).
- Analysis of chemical impact on the environment and human health.
- Informing the supply chain on the chemicals produced. Producers have the responsibility to inform downstream users of the chemical composition of their products. The main method for this communication is the Safety Data Sheet (SDS).
The EU-based branches of the BSEF membersas producers or importers of brominated flame retardants , submitted a list of substances they produce or import to the European Authorities for pre-registration [KF4] in June 2008. The following brominated flame retardants were registered under REACH in 2010:
- TBBPA has been registered under REACH with the CAS number 79-94-7
- HBCD has been registered under REACH with the CAS number 3194-55-6
- Deca-BDE has been registered under REACH with the CAS number 1163-19-5
Under the REACH Regulation, substances can be regulated by Authorisation (for use in specific applications), or by Restriction with specific exemptions. The Authorisation procedure foresees that the use of substances with properties of very high concern and their placing on the market can be made subject to an authorisation requirement. According to this procedure, the European Commission and the Member States propose a candidate list of substances of very high concern (SVHC), from which the substances to be included in Annex XIV of the Regulation (list of substances subject to Authorisation) are selected and prioritized. Once included in Annex XIV, a substance may only be placed on the market or used if a special authorisation is granted by the Commission under a specific procedure that involves also the Member States.
The REACH processes are summarised below:
BROMINATED FLAME RETARDANTS AND REACH
REACH and Deca-BDE
Deca-BDE was successfully Registered under REACH in September 2010.
Deca-BDE has already been the subject of an evaluation under the previous regime to REACH, the Existing Substances Regulation. Under this procedure, an EU Risk Assessment was conducted which concluded there was no need for restrictions as no significant risks were identified for the use of Deca-BDE. The Risk Assessment was finalised and published on the EU Official Journal in May 2008. The results of the Deca-BDE Risk Assessment have been transferred into the REACH Registration dossier submitted to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
On 3 August 2012, the UK Competent Authorities submitted an Annex XV Dossier to ECHA proposing Deca-BDE as a substance for inclusion in the REACH Candidate List. For more information on this ongoing process please visit the ECHA webpage.
More information on Deca-BDE can be found here.
REACH and TBBPA
TBBPA was registered under REACH in October 2010.
The completion of the TBBPA Risk Assessment conclusions have enabled a smooth transition of TBBPA through the REACH registration procedure, as the science needed to register TBBPA had already been completed.
In the Risk Assessment it was concluded that TBBPA presents no risks to human health. No risks to the environment were identified for reactive use of TBBPA in printed circuit board applications, but a risk to the aqueous environment was identified for additive use at a single European plant producing ABS compounds. An EU Risk Reduction Strategy recommended controlling this local risk under the framework of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (IPPC). On 18 June 2008, the European Commission officially concluded the Risk Assessment by publishing conclusions in the EU Official Journal.
There are currently no ongoing processes under REACH for TBBPA.
More information on TBBPA can be found here.
REACH and HBCD
HBCD has already been the subject of an evaluation under the ESR Risk Assessment procedure, in which HBCD was assigned as having persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) properties. A Risk Reduction Strategy was formulated, but was not completed before the transition procedure to REACH. HBCD was registered under REACH in October 2010.
In October 2008, HBCD was included by ECHA in the candidate list for Authorisation under REACH. This decision followed a proposal presented by the Swedish Chemicals Agency (KemI) identifying HBCD as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) and based on the Risk Assessment Report which concluded that HBCD is a PBT (Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic) substance.
On 1 June 2009, ECHA sent to the Commission its recommendation list of substances to be subject to Authorisation as a priority, which included HBCD.
The European Commission included HBCD in the amended Annex XIV of substances for Authorisation under REACH, which was published in the Official Journal of the EU in February 2011.
According to the amended Annex XIV, applications for Authorisation for the use of HBCD should be submitted to ECHA by 21 February 2014. The so called “sunset date” for HBCD is 21 August 2015. After this date only authorised uses of HBCD will be allowed in Europe.
The RoHS Directive stands for "the Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment". This Directive bans the placing on the EU market of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than agreed levels of several substances including Penta-BDE, Octa-BDE and Deca-BDE. The RoHS Directive reflects existing industry practice as well as already implemented European legislation. Industry has already voluntarily ceased production of PBBs in 2000. Also, Penta-BDE and Octa-BDE are banned for use in the European Union since August 2004.
This European Directive which was adopted in June 8, 2011 and published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 1 July 2011 repeals the original RoHS Directive which has regulated hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (E&E) since June 2006. The updated RoHS also introduces a methodology for substance restrictions and opens the scope now covering all electrical and electronic equipment except that which is specifically excluded.
The directive on the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) aims to prevent the production and disposal of WEEE through reuse and recycling targets. Moreover, it is set up to improve the environmental performance of all operators involved in the life cycle of electrical and electronic (E&E) equipment. The WEEE directive requires European Union Member States to ensure that producer-financed systems are set up to separately collect, treat, recover and dispose of WEEE. The WEEE directive prescribes the removal or the separate treatment of certain substances, mixtures and components, including plastic containing brominated flame retardants, from any separately collected WEEE. The directive has been in force since February 2003.
In June 2012 the recast WEEE directive was adopted. Under the new directive, Member States must, from 2016, collect 45% of the average weight of E&E equipment annually placed on their national markets. From 2019, the minimum collection rate to be achieved annually is 65 % of the average weight of E&E equipment placed on the market in the three preceding years in the Member State concerned, or alternatively 85 % of waste electrical and electronic equipment generated on the territory of that Member State. Some EU member states where consumers use fewer electronic devices may achieve the targets with some flexibility.
Depending on the type of equipment 70-80% of the waste has to be recovered and 50-75% has to be re-used or recycled between 2012 and 2015. This will be increased to 75-85% for recovery and 55-80% for re-use or recycling after 2015.
Moreover, the directive establishes the producer responsibility, as a means of encouraging design and production of E&E which take into account and facilitate its repair, upgrading, re-use, disassembly and recycling. The recast directive does not lead to changes for brominated flame retardants.
Water Framework Directive (WFD)
The Water Framework Directive (WFD), which entered into force in December 2000, establishes a Community framework for water protection and management. Its main focus is the establishment of a strategy for dealing with chemical pollution of water.
The Directive identified a priority list of 33 substances in the field of Water Policy. Out of the 33 substances included in the WFD some will be monitored or reviewed for identification as potentially hazardous substances, while others were identified as hazardous substances to be phased out in 20 years. Octa-BDE & Deca-BDE are listed among the substances to be monitored, while Penta-BDE is the only BFR listed as a hazardous substance. No other BFR is listed.
Please go to the European Brominated Flame Retardant Industry Panel’s (EBFRIP) website for more information on Water Framework Directive and brominated flame retardants.