Two articles published on April 21, 2016 by news providers Reuters and Chemical Watch, respectively, report on the decision of the European Commission’s (EC) Committee established under the Regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH Committee) to approve the use of recycled plastics containing diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7). Three companies have been granted authorization to use DEHP in recycled polyvinyl chloride (PVC) articles. Safeguard measures such as monitoring and biomonitoring, as well as a shorter time period to reapply for authorization shall be in place. The decision was justified by the need “to reduce the amount of waste material,” Reuters writes. The recycled DEHP-containing PVC shall mainly be used in flooring and footwear.

The non-profit organization European Environmental Bureau (EEB) commented that the Committee’s decision does not conform with REACH because a) the risks related to the use of DEHP are not adequately controlled, b) suitable alternative substances and technologies are available, and c) the applicants did not show that the socio-economic benefits of continued DEHP use outweigh the risks to human health or the environment. Non-profit organization ChemSec deemed this decision “a step in the wrong direction for REACH.” Further, ChemSec noted that “in order to achieve a truly sustainable and safe circular economy, we must accept that not all materials can be reused or recycled.”

In November 2015, the European Parliament (EP) passed a non-binding resolution recommending prohibiting the recycling of plastics containing DEHP (FPF reported). DEHP is a known endocrine disruptor and was widely used as a plasticizer in PVC applications. It is included in the Authorization List (Annex XIV) under REACH.

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Reuters (April 21, 2016). “EU approves use of recycled plastics containing DEHP.

Luke Buxton (April 21, 2016). “REACH Committee approves DEHP use in recycled PVC.Chemical Watch

EEB (April 20, 2016). “Toxic hormone disrupter approved for use.

ChemSec (April 22, 2016). “Authorisation for DEHP a step in the wrong direction.

David Eldridge (April 29, 2016). “Commission authorises DEHP use for recycled soft PVC.Plastics News Europe