PVC recycling endangered – EU Parliament votes against lead restriction

Updated: May 19, 2020

On February 12, the EU Parliament rejected a delegated act proposal tabled for vote by the European Commission to restrict the use of lead stabilizers under REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals). The proposal contained inter alia an exemption for lead in specific PVC building products such as windows and doors. EPPA regrets this vote and considers it to be a step against the Circular Economy.

“This vote contradicts the strict scientific assessment by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which concluded that recycling is currently the best solution for PVC waste containing these additives,” says the PVC and Environment Working Party (AGPU) and the European sustainability programme Vinyl Plus®.

What are potential next steps? The Commission must now decide how it wants to proceed. It may modify the proposal or start over the entire legal process, taking around 4 years. Ultimately, a proposal will be subject to the scrutiny of the European Parliament again and the institution will have to decide whether or not it wants to support the Circular Economy.

What route should be taken? “The decision is not whether we are against or in favor of lead. Scientific facts tell us that it is a toxic substance. However, we must find a way to deal with substances from the past of which we know more today than we did 50 years ago. This is not only the case for lead in PVC products. It is the case for all substances in all long life products. The scientific assessment of ECHA has shown that release is best controlled and prevented by recycling. Alternatives like incineration (and landfilling that will also lead to incineration in the long run, while leaching in the meantime can be less controlled) would release most of these toxic substances into the air. Today, chemical recycling of rigid PVC-U is as much of a solution as sending human life to Mars. It is something to invest and research in, but it is not a viable solution today or next week. We must convince all actors to act responsibly with regard to the environment and human health. This is what we stand for in this discussion”, says Charlotte Röber, Managing Director EPPA.

Current information and further statements on the topic can be found in EPPA’s press release and in the VinylPlus press information.

Picture: (c) Rewindo – rewindo.com