In February 2011 it was announced in the European Commission Regulation No. 143/2011 that hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) was among six chemicals added to the candidate list (Annex XIV) of the REACH Regulation to be banned August 21, 2015, unless an authorisation had been granted to individual companies for their specific use.
The most important present use of HBCDD is as a flame retardant in expandable polystyrene (EPS) foam insulation in buildings, – a use considered essential by industry.
In January 2013 nine manufacturers of expanded polystyrene (EPS) joined forces and have set up a hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) authorisation consortium with the aim to obtain an authorisation for the continued use of the substance as a flame retardant in EPS used in buildings.
The founding members of the consortium were: Ineos Styrenics, Monotez S.A., Polidux S.A., StyroChem Finland Oy, Sunpor Kunststoff GmbH Austria, Synbra Technology B.V., Synthos S.A, Unipol Holland B.V., Versalis S.p.A.
The Consortium has now successfully jointly prepared 13 applications for authorisation of two continued HBCDD uses and has submitted them to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) before the deadline of February 21, 2014.
The arguments for exemptions put forward by the Consortium were summarized in a press release as:
- The EPS raw material producers are committed to changing from HBCDD to an alternative as soon as possible, within legal deadlines and satisfying technical approvals.
- HBCDD is still the main, commercially available flame retardant for EPS.
- Flame retardant suppliers have started production of commercial quantities of alternative materials and the first applications in insulation products are being made available in the EU during 2014.
- Not all announced capacity for the HBCDD alternatives is currently on stream, however, meaning delays in the production development and technical approvals cannot be excluded.
- Members of the consortium are concerned that fully approved alternative flame retardants may not be available in sufficient commercial quantities before August 2015.
- Members are asking the EU for additional time to allow for a smooth market transition from HBCDD.
This authorisation process has to respect the global ban and specific exemptions by the Stockholm Convention (see News Blog March 2).