On January 17, 2021, the non-governmental organization International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) released a press statement about the 16th meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC), which took place online on January 11-16, 2021. At this meeting, the 31 POPRC members decided that the chemical 2-(2H-Benzotriazol-2-yl)-4,6-bis(1,1-dimethylpropyl)phenol (UV-328/ TINUVIN-328/; CAS 25973-55-1) fulfills the criteria for screening as laid out in Annex D of the Stockholm Convention.
This means that UV-328 now enters the next steps of the assessment process, where a draft risk profile will be compiled and discussed during the POPRC’s next meeting in September 2021. The decision about listing UV-328 under Annex A (Elimination) would then be taken at a later stage by the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
UV-328 is used world-wide in high tonnages as a UV absorber in a large variety of plastics, coatings, personal care products, and food contact applications. However, UV-328 has been 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). Therefore, in 2014 UV-328 was listed as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) by the EU and added to the REACH authorization list in February 2019. Addressing the problem of ongoing worldwide usage, the Swiss government in May 2020 submitted a proposal to add UV-328 to the elimination list of the Stockholm Convention on POPs.
In order for UV-328 to qualify for screening under Annex D as a POP, the POPRC committee needed to determine whether the chemical meets the Annex D screening criteria of (1) persistence, (2) bioaccumulation, (3) adverse effects, and (4) potential for long-range environmental transport.
Especially the last point on long-range transport has been challenged previously by the industry association International Council of Chemicals Associations (ICCA). Swiss experts had proposed that marine litter constitutes a potential long-range transport carrier for UV-328, as it has been detected in even remote geographical areas such as the Arctic and the Pacific Ocean – far from production and usage sites. However, the ICCA disagreed with this argument, and also other participants expressed concerns that accepting this hypothesis could “open the door” to classifying any plasticizer or substance that adsorbs to plastic as a POP.
IPEN Science Advisor Sara Brosché welcomed the result, stating the UV-328 decision “is especially important since it highlights that it is not only the visible plastic pieces that now contaminate even the most remote locations of the world, but also the invisible chemicals they carry.”
Brosché went on that this nomination could open up the convention to tackling other plastic additives as well, such as phthalates that have similar properties of bioaccumulation, toxicity, and long-range transport. A group approach for UV-328 could also be considered, as three other UV stabilizers with similar properties – UV-320, UV-327, and UV-350 – are regulated in Europe alongside UV-328.
The next step in the process is to draft a risk profile of UV-328 that will assess the necessity of global action, which shall be discussed in September 2021 at the next POPRC meeting. A possible global ban could be realized earliest by 2023.
IISD (January 25, 2021). “Stockholm Committee Reviews Three POPs for Screening, Listing.”
Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention (January 16, 2021). “Big Year for chemicals & waste continues as UN experts take steps to recommend eliminating UV-328 (a toxic plastic additive).”
Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention (January 16-18). “Sixteenth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC.16).”
International Institute for Sustainable Development (January 16, 2021). “16th Meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee to the Stockholm Convention (POPRC-16).”
IPEN (January 17, 2021). “U.N. Expert Committee Acts on Hazardous Chemicals in Plastics.”
Ginger Hervey (January 21, 2021). “UN experts find that UV stabiliser meets criteria for POP.” Chemical Watch
Ginger Hervey (November 10, 2020). “Proposal to list UV stabiliser as a POP would set ‘significant precedent’, says ACC.” Chemical Watch
International Institute for Sustainable Development (January 19, 2021). “Summary of the 16th Meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC-16) to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants: 11-16 January 2021.” (pdf)