In an article published on June 28, 2021, the online magazine Unearthed reports on recent pushback from the world’s largest oil and chemical companies against a proposed listing of the plastic additive known as UV-328 (CAS 25973-55-1) into the United Nation’s Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). In January 2021, the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) within the Convention officially reviewed and recognized that the substance fulfills the set screening criteria of: (1) persistence, (2) bioaccumulation, (3) adverse effects, and (4) potential for long-range environmental transport (FPF reported). The nomination for the listing under the Convention for global elimination was submitted by the government of Switzerland. The proposal has received wide-ranging support from members of the Convention’s review committee.
However, statements from chemical industry associations and interviews with various stakeholders as reported by Unearthed and in a recent article in the Daily Mail have suggested that a restriction on UV-328 due to its identified hazardous properties would lead to “the end of plastic.” This statement, however, is being seen by many stakeholders as a strongly exaggerated and simply illogical prediction due to the availability of chemical alternatives on the market that could be used to replace UV-328 in global plastics manufacturing. Furthermore, UV-328 is just one of over 10’000 chemicals recently found to be intentionally added into plastics during manufacturing (FPF reported). The Stockholm Convention assesses chemicals individually against each of the four set criteria, and the recognition of UV-328’s hazard properties cannot result in the automatic restriction of other plastics additives. Other chemicals would need to be screened separately within the Convention against these criteria. National governments, however, can always voluntarily decide to use their own policy mechanisms that go beyond requirements internationally agreed within the Stockholm Convention.
UV-328 is used worldwide as a UV absorber in a large variety of plastics, coatings, and food contact applications. The chemical has been experimentally shown to cause damage to the liver and kidneys in mammals, and to have endocrine-disrupting effects, as described in a 2020 report by the Endocrine Society and IPEN (FPF reported). In 2014, UV-328 was officially recognized as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) by the EU and added to the REACH authorization list in February 2019. Concerned about the continued use of the chemical worldwide, the Swiss government submitted the proposal to add UV-328 to the elimination list of the Stockholm Convention in May 2020.
The next step in the Convention’s process will begin at the POPRC’s next meeting in January 2022. This will involve the discussion of the “draft risk profile” of the chemical.
Emma Howard (June 28, 2021) “The oil and chemical industry is lobbying against landmark global regulation of microplastic chemicals.” Unearthed
Tom Kelly (June 28, 2021) “Is this the end of plastic? United Nations considers groundbreaking global ban on key toxic chemical to turn the tide on pollution.” Mail Online
Stockholm Convention (January 2021) “Big Year for chemicals & waste continues as UN experts take steps to recommend eliminating UV-328 (a toxic plastic additive).”