The comprehensive inventory of all plastic additives used to date in the EU, published today by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), is an important step towards better risk assessment of these substances under REACH and CLP.
Cefic and its members worked alongside ECHA, the plastics value chain represented by PlasticsEurope and European Plastics Converters (EuPC), academics and EU member state representatives for two years to screen some 1,000 substances, to identify the substances that are actually used as plastic additives in the EU and validate data on their intrinsic properties.
The data provided by the industry helped ECHA and a team of researchers develop a model to calculate the release potential of each substance into the environment. Regulators in EU member states will be able to use this inventory as a starting point to decide which substances should be assessed as a matter of priority. The information provided in this inventory will need to be combined with the hazard characteristics of each substance for a full risk assessment. Companies will be able to use the inventory to further refine the data about uses and exposure potential in their REACH registration dossiers. Cefic and PlasticsEurope members will communicate the inventory to their supply chain to make sure the downstream industries have the right information about the uses of each substance and its properties.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) committed to map all substances registered under REACH in the >100 tonnes band and their uses in order to identify those that require further regulatory action and those that have a lower risk profile and can therefore be assigned a lower priority.
419 high volume (>100T/year) substances have been identified as additives in plastics in the context of this project. They cover a group of functional additives and pigments.
Additives are used in plastics to impart the essential properties needed to make them fit for their specific purpose and ensure safe use by the consumer throughout the article’s service life. They include
1) plasticisers that ensure the flexibility and durability of cables, flooring and roof membranes;
2) flame retardants that impart fire safety properties to your electronics and other household items;
3) anti-oxidants that ensure the durability and stability of drinking water pipes and other long-life articles;
4) and other additives such as pigments, heat stabilisers, etc…
The potential for release to the environment means the potential for a chemical to be released in air, water and soil during the use of that chemical in an article.). The inventory does not provide actual (real life) or experimental data, only the relative release potential.