EU Lawmakers To Vote Tues On Stricter PVC Regulations
Dow Jones Newswires 2apr01
BRUSSELS -- European Union lawmakers are expected to Tuesday vote on the dramatic reduction of the use of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, in a move the EUR72 billion plastics industry claims is not only without merit, but will result in considerable job and revenue losses.
E.U. lawmakers and environmental groups insist PVC continues to present health and environmental risks, given the emission of carcinogenic dioxins and chlorine from incinerators that burn PVC and other plastics, as well as the presence of phthalates, lead and cadmium in PVC.
PVC is one of the most widely-used plastics in the E.U., according to the E.U. Commission, with production totaling 5.5 million metric tons in 1998.
E.U. lawmakers say the voluntary efforts by the plastics industry to improve recycling methods, reduce the amount of PVC placed in landfills and phase out the use of cadmium aren't sufficient.
In a report on the environmental effects of PVC, E.U. lawmaker Guido Sacconi bluntly states the Commission must implement legislation "designed to reduce the production of PVC by developing alternatives."
Possible substitutes include polyethylene and polypropylene, but the pervasiveness of PVC means the task of replacing it is a monumental one.
While E.U. lawmakers support a number of the voluntary commitments made by the plastics industry, "a number of misunderstandings remain," according to Martyn Griffiths, head of communications for the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers.
Griffiths maintains PVC poses no risk when placed into landfills, and expects the Commission to issue a communication paper on PVC - rather than binding legislation - by summer.
"The Commission must recognize that voluntary commitments by the plastics industry are the way forward," said Griffiths.
However, the Commission is also currently seeking to implement a permanent ban on phthalates - a chemical used to soften PVC products such as babies' pacifiers.
In December 1999, the Commission adopted a three-month renewable ban on toys and teething products, such as pacifiers and teething rings, containing certain phthalates. The ban has been continuously renewed since then.
The Commission has said the phthalates released when children put certain products in their mouths are dangerous, and may lead to liver, kidney and testicular damage.
But the scientific basis for the ban on phthalates has always been extremely contentious, and scientists have clashed with politicians and Commission officials over the implementation of the temporary emergency ban on phthalates.
If you have come to this page from an outside location click here to get back to mindfully.org