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Sustainability // Legislation


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Brussels to regulate BPA in cans

ENDS reports that The European Commission will propose a limit on the widely used endocrine-disrupting chemical BPA as a coating in metal food cans and screw caps, an official said on Tuesday.

At present EU law only regulates BPA in plastic food containers, and the only EU restriction is for BPA in baby bottles. But it is also widely used as a coating in metal food cans and in screw caps.

BPA, low level exposure to which is ubiquitous in Europe, is the best known hazardous chemical found in food packaging. France banned BPA in all food contact materials last year to protect consumers.

The EU is under pressure at the World Trade Organization to tidy up its patchwork of approaches to regulating BPA. If new EU-level rules were introduced, they would override national restrictions such as France’s BPA ban, the Commission suggested in a ‘policy roadmap’ last year.

A Commission official told a European Parliament workshop on Tuesday that the Commission was working on a draft measure based on option 3 in the roadmap: to “modify legislative restrictions for BPA in plastic food contact materials at EU level and introduce measures for BPA in coatings and varnishes at EU level”.

This option would see a specific migration limit set for the presence of BPA in coatings and varnishes based on the safe intake limit established by the European Food Safety Authority. The existing restriction on the use of BPA in plastic food contact materials would also be amended.

The workshop heard that replacing materials containing BPA with safe alternatives is proving difficult. A representative of Danish supermarket chain Coop said many suppliers are replacing BPA with other bisphenol chemicals that have more or less the same effect on health and the environment.

Anne Marie Vinggaard of the Danish Technical University noted that BPA is also present in recycled paper.

EU Commission proposes changes to scope of RoHS2

Chemical Watch reports that The European Commission has published an outline of its plans to amend the scope of the Directive on the restriction of certain hazardous substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment.

The changes are deemed necessary to tackle several unintended consequences of the revision of RoHS2, which was adopted in 2011. These include:

  • the resale of equipment, which came into the scope of the directive in 2011 – the current wording of RoHS2 would effectively ban the sale of refurbished equipment in 2019; and
  • the provision of spare parts to repair products, newly in scope of RoHS2.

Medical devices are among the product categories affected.

A third issue relates specifically to pipe organs, which contain lead alloy.

The Commission’s plans – laid out in an inception impact assessment – include a preliminary analysis of the three areas of concern, references to several studies carried out between 2012-14, and some policy options. 

These options include: modifying the 2019 deadline for the resale of refurbished goods; specific provisions for spare parts of products newly in scope of RoHS; and an exclusion from the directive for pipe organs.

A full impact assessment is currently being finalised and, based on its outcomes, a legislative proposal is scheduled for adoption by mid-year

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