ENDS Europe DAILY  [Printer-friendly version]
August 28, 2006


[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.