A motion for a resolution supported by the ENVI Committee against the European Commission’s proposal to regulate lead in PVC will be subject to a plenary vote today.
The European Commission’s draft restriction set different standards for virgin and secondary materials. This measure enables great amounts of lead (up to 10,000 tonnes per year1) to be reintroduced in the EU market through recycled PVC for at least the next 15 years.
Since the 2000 Green Paper on environmental issues of PVC, the Commission is considering the legislative phase-out or other risk reduction measures for lead and legislative instruments to restrict the mechanical recycling of PVC waste containing lead but did not follow the recommendations of the European Parliament, which requested to ban lead as a stabiliser in the EU .
Based on a voluntary agreement, the European PVC industry has today almost entirely phased out lead stabilisers. This phase out took 15 years and imports of lead from PVC articles are still entering the European market. Meanwhile, exposure to leaded PVC continues.
The Commission requested the European Chemicals Agency to draft an Annex XV Restriction Report. The restriction proposed by the Commission would be applicable only 24 months after the entry into force of the Restriction. It also contains two derogations allowing the presence of lead in recycled PVC: one allows the presence of up to 2% by weight of rigid PVC and the other allows up to 1% by weight of flexible PVC, for a substance for which no safe health levels of exposure can be determined.