The Commission has proposed to amend the rules concerning lead concentration in PVC. As a general rule, 0,1 % lead would have been tolerated in PVC, but higher thresholds would have been allowed for recycled PVC (2 % in rigid PVC and 1 % in flexible/soft PVC). With 394 votes for, 241 votes against and 13 abstentions, MEPs on Wednesday rejected the Commission’s proposal.
MEPs believe the proposal goes against the main principle of the REACH regulation, which is to protect human health and the environment. They recall that lead is a toxic substance that can seriously affect health, including irreversible neurological damage, even in low doses. They believe that the levels proposed by the Commission do not correspond to “safe levels” and underline that alternatives are available.
The Parliament’s objection means that the draft measure shall not be adopted by the Commission. The Commission may either submit an amended draft or present a new one.
VinylPlus: Vote goes against ECHA’s opinion
VinylPlus, the voluntary commitment to sustainable development of the European PVC industry, regrets the outcome of today’s vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg concerning the proposed derogation for the continuous use of recycled PVC containing legacy lead substances. This vote contradicts the outcome of the rigorous scientific evaluation carried out over the last five years by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) which concluded that continued recycling is currently the best waste management option for PVC wastes containing such additives.
“In the absence of any alternative solution, the logic of today’s vote is that many end-of-life PVC articles from long-life applications will have to be disposed of by incineration or landfill, leading to a much higher environmental burden for the next generations. The vote also implies delaying the restriction on the imports of lead containing PVC articles to Europe. The resulting legislative uncertainty jeopardises the investment in recycling technology, undermines the European strategy for plastics in Circular Economy and impacts considerably the ability to reach the recycling targets of the European Circular Plastics Alliance”, says Brigitte Dero, Managing Director of VinylPlus
EuPC: Vote damages circular economy
After the vote, EuPC Managing Director Alexandre Dangis stated: “We regret the decision of the European Parliament to vote against the proposed restriction on lead in PVC as proposed by the European Commission and the Member States. This vote disregards the fact that the restriction follows a scientific evaluation started by the European Chemicals Agency and its Committees already 5 years ago and resulted in a balanced risk management decision by the Commission and Member States.
This decision also postpones the ban on imports of articles containing lead, which was the first reason for proposing the restriction, and will furthermore create a non-level playing field for the European industry that voluntarily substituted this stabilizer.
This bad signal will again compromise the achievements of the Circular Plastics Alliance, at the minimum by creating more uncertainty for investment in recycling in Europe. The extent of the damages will now depend on the subsequent handling of the file by the European Commission.”