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IPC continues to oppose RoHS amendments
23 June 2010, News

IPC is continuing its ongoing battle with those seeking to amend the RoHS directive in Europe.

In response to a recent report released by ChemSec, entitled ‘Electronics without brominated flame retardants and PVC – a market overview,’ IPC is actively refuting statements published in the report. ChemSec is a non-profit organisation based in Sweden, whose stated objective is to work for a toxic-free environment, with the focus of highlighting the risks of hazardous substances and influence and speed up legislative processes.

According to IPC, ChemSec’s report contains information that is misleading, incomplete and misrepresentative of the electronics industry. The report’s release coincides with the European Union’s review of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive. Amendments have been introduced in the EU Parliament to restrict the use of brominated flame retardants under the RoHS directive.

In refuting the report, IPC is continuing its efforts to seek revisions to the RoHS Directive that are “based on science and result in genuine environmental improvements,” says Fern Abrams, IPC director of environmental policy.

ChemSec’s report, which claims that industry is making wholesale movements away from brominated flame retardants (BFRs), contains misleading statements about the environmental and health concerns associated with BFRs, according to IPC. While some BFRs, such as polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), have been identified as toxic and have been withdrawn from the market, other BFRs, such as Tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBPA), have been safely used in electronic products for decades. The World Health Organisation and the European Commission Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) conducted separate, comprehensive scientific assessments of TBBPA and both found TBBPA to be safe for human health and the environment.

“While the report intends to show that it is technically feasible to remove BFRs from products, it does not provide indication of any environmental benefit in doing so,” says Abrams. The report also fails to identify the alternative flame retardants used and whether they are better for human health and the environment than the BFRs they are intended to replace. Abrams adds, “We reject the report’s implication that the sheer ability to remove BFRs from a specific product proves that the action is beneficial.”

Abrams went on to say that the ability of one electronics company to remove BFRs from a product does not mean that every electronics company is capable of removing BFRs. While some major consumer products OEMs have made the commitment to remove BFRs and PVC from certain products, companies have explicitly stated that the removal of all BFRs and PVC is contingent upon viable alternatives that do not compromise the functionality, safety and reliability of their products.

IPC continues to lobby to ensure the RoHS revisions process reflects the needs of the electronics industry and is based on sound science, most recently by contacting a number of influential Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) regarding proposed amendments to the RoHS Directive. IPC’s white paper, ‘Recasting the RoHS Directive: An Opportunity to Solidify its Scientific Basis in Support of Comprehensive Environmental Regulation,’ advocates for a revised RoHS to be based on sound science and fully aligned with the REACH methodology for substance restrictions.

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