Pollutant crackdown ‘could boost illegal waste disposal’

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A key industry body has voiced “great concern” over moves by the European Commission to rapidly reduce the volume of certain pollutants in recycled material.

The European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA) warned that introducing fresh limits on polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in recovered products could lead to more waste being sent out of the continent for disposal.

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The Commission published a paper last November concluding that articles containing recyclate should contain no-more than 175 parts per million (ppm) of the pollutants from the end of 2025.

This should then be slashed to just 100ppm two years later, the report added.

But the EERA said it “strongly believes” the crackdown will “cause an increase in the volume of undocumented and illegal routes and/or diluted waste exports out of Europe”.

The industry body added: “Another unintended consequence is that the achievement of recycling/recovery targets imposed on electrical and electronic equipment producers and recyclers as set down in the WEEE Directive 2012 is highly doubtful, if indeed possible at all, should plastics have to be diverted to waste disposal routes.”

The EERA also bemoaned a “lack of verifiable, scientific and accurate testing methods” which it warned “results in uncertainty for the industry and investors”.

It concluded: “The EERA strongly recommends that the lower unintentional trace contaminant limits are not imposed until there is a scientific testing approach that can be used on a commercial and continuous basis.”