ENDS Europe DAILY, August 28, 2006
SWEDES FOLLOW THROUGH ON DECA FIRE-RETARDANT BAN
[Rachel's introduction: Sweden is steadily pushing toward its goal of eliminating persistent toxic chemicals from use. Others in the European Union, influenced by the chemical industry, oppose Sweden's precautionary approach.]
Sweden is pushing ahead with legislation banning many uses of the brominated flame retardant deca-BDE in the face of EU protests. The ban will enter force in January and will cover new products in sectors such as textiles, upholstery and electrical wiring. It will not affect existing EU rules on the use of deca in cars or electronic equipment.
Environment minister Lena Sommestad announced the move last week, restating Sweden's determination to "go ahead of the EU" by imposing controls on deca. A government spokesman told ENDS on Monday that the ban was "necessary and proportionate". Earlier this year European commission, the UK and France objected to the plans.
Brominated flame retardant industry group Ebfrip said the move contravened EU treaty rules on the free movement of goods. Sweden's action would either "encourage the use of less tested alternatives or drive consumer products to be less safe by increasing their flammability, [with] potentially serious implications for consumer fire safety," chairman Dieter Drohmann said.
But the restrictions will not apply to electrical and electronic goods, a sector where the use of deca is already controversial. The substance was banned in EU electronics by governments and MEPs through the restrictions on hazardous substances (RoHS) directive in 2002. The European commission then granted deca an exemption late last year.
This waiver has been challenged by Denmark and the European parliament. The EU's court of justice is now considering the case. In the meantime the commission has issued a fresh interpretation of the RoHS, suggesting that deca will in effect be banned for use in electronics anyway.
Follow-up: See Swedish environment ministry press release.