A legal hole allows recycled plastic toys to contain dangerous toxic e-waste.
A European study, in which Ecologistas en Acción has participated, shows the high presence of dangerous toxins from electronic waste in toys and other consumer products.
The toxins detected are among the 28 most dangerous toxins on the planet due to their persistence in the environment and are endocrine disruptors that affect the thyroid and child neurological development.
Ecologistas en Acción demands that the Spanish authorities eliminate the legal vacuum that allows recycled plastic to have toxic levels prohibited in new plastic.
A European research team, with which Ecologistas en Acción has collaborated, has found toxins from electronic waste in the recycled plastic used in toys and other products for sale in Spain.
The toxins found are divided into two types of fire retardant or flame retardant substances: on the one hand, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs in English), used for years in covers and insulation of electronic cables, and hexabromo cyclododecane (HBCD), used in polystyrene foams and plastics for electronics and automobiles. Both types of substances are endocrine disruptors related to thyroid malfunction, neurological damage, and child attention deficits. In addition, they are among the 28 most dangerous toxins on the planet on the list of the Stockholm Convention due to their persistence in the environment.
The study analyzes 109 toys, hair accessories and kitchen utensils purchased in different European countries. The results show that 98% of the samples contained polybromo diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and 80% contained hexabromo cyclododecane.
In Spain, Ecologistas en Acción sampled three toys and three hair accessories. All six samples contained polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in concentrations ranging from 171 to 948 parts per million (ppm). Five contained HBCD (see table).
European legislation limits the amount of PBDEs present in consumer products. For newly manufactured plastics, the limit is 10 ppm (parts per million) for the sum of the polybrominated diphenyl ethers OctaBDE and DecaBDE. However, if the plastic is recycled, the allowable limit is 1,000 ppm.
The products analyzed in Spain do not exceed the legal limits for recycled plastic. But the results show the incongruity of allowing a hundred times greater amount of toxins in recycled plastic and the insecurity for the consumer since, when buying a plastic product, they do not know if the plastic used is new or recycled, so they ignore the level of endocrine disruptors to which you are exposed.
Taken together, the results indicate that flame retardants in e-waste revert to consumer products made from recycled plastic, including flame retardants banned by the Stockholm Convention due to their high persistence and toxicity.
According to Jitka Strakova, a researcher at the Arnika organization specializing in persistent toxic substances, who led the study: “A child's endocrine system, affected by toxic PBDE, does not care if a toy is made of new plastic or recycling. The only way to protect people's health against the toxins in electronic waste is to close this legal vacuum and remove substances from the plastic recycling cycle ”.
Since the recycling exemptions for PBDEs are equivalent to a double standard for plastics, Ecologistas en Acción, together with the research teams and organizations that have participated in the study, requires the Spanish authorities to take the necessary measures to ensure that recycled plastics meet the same standards as new plastics in the European Union.
The study‘Toxic hole: recycling hazardous waste into new products’ it has been developed by Arnika, HEAL and IPEN. 430 samples were collected between April and July 2018 in the following countries: Member States of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden) and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Russia and Serbia). The laboratory at the Prague University of Chemistry and Technology further analyzed 109 products to determine the concentrations of specific brominated flame retardant chemicals.
Report (in English):https://english.arnika.org/publications/toxic-loophole-recycling-hazardous-waste-into-new-products
Results of Spanish products in parts per million
|Hair Acc||Hair clip||8.936||2.131||46||853||899||1||31|
|Hair Acc||Hair clip||18.794||4.882||43||764||807||5||161|
Dolores Romano (responsible for chemical policies at Ecologistas en Acción): 659 821 344
Koldo Hernández (spokesperson for Ecologists in Action): 678 967 727