On September 8, 2015 the non-profit organization International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec) published an article on a recent proposal under review by the European Commission (EC) suggesting the possibility to recycle materials that contain the flame retardant chemical decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE, CAS 1163-19-5). 29 NGOs, including the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), have now written an open letter to the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries demanding that the EC bans recycling of materials containing DecaBDE. “Recycling DecaBDE products would offer a second-life to toxic substance exposure in new goods and create an endless hazardous legacy loop”, CIEL stated.

DecaBDE is used in plastics for electronic equipment and in textiles. It is listed as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) on the Candidate List under the European regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), and it is proposed for listing as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) under the Stockholm Convention. DecaBDE is persistent in the environment, accumulates in animals and humans, and has adverse effects on the hormone, reproductive and nervous system.

In a study published in 2013, researchers detected brominated flame retardants, including DecaBDE, in black plastic food contact materials such as thermocups and kitchen utensils (FPF reported). In the efforts of moving towards a circular economy, the role of (toxic) chemicals is of increasing concern and was addressed by the advocacy group CHEM Trust in a briefing to the EC (FPF reported). According to EEB, “toxic recycling is the main obstacle to the circular economy”.

On September 8-10, 2015 the Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) will meet to decide on its recommendations to the EC regarding the recycling of materials containing DecaBDE.

Read more

ChemSec (September 8, 2015). “Legal loophole may reintroduce banned flame retardants through recycled materials.

CIEL (September 7, 2015). “EU wants to allow banned chemicals in household products.

EEB (September 7, 2015). “EU wants to allow banned chemicals in household products.

Jeremy Wates (September 7, 2015). “Open letter to Mr Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.(pdf)

Food Packaging Forum (December 4, 2014). Plastic recycling.


Samsonek, J. & Puype, F. (2013). “Occurrence of brominated flame retardants in black thermocups and selected kitchen utensils purchased on the European market.Food Additives & Contamination: Part A 30(11):1976-1986.