BRUSSELS (May 10, 12:15 p.m. ET) — Plastics companies in the European Union that store potentially dangerous chemicals on their premises will have to abide by tougher management standards to prevent industrial accidents by 2015.
This is because the European Parliament, the European Commission and the EU Council of Ministers have struck an agreement on the contents of a new law - the Seveso III directive - that will include new safety rules for chemical-using businesses.
Named after the site in Italy of a notorious 1976 chemical industry accident, the law will force plastics manufacturers to “progressively improve on their level of safety,” according to a communiqué from the Danish government, which currently holds the presidency of the EU.
Tightening rules already in place under the 1997 Seveso II directive, the new law will also force EU member states to publish information on the internet about the location of plants covered by the directive and on how the public should react in a chemical accident emergency. It protects protestors' rights to launch court challenges to planning decisions on the location of such plants.
The legislation covers all companies handling toxic chemicals, oil and petrol, including metallic ingredients in plastics.
• Other recent EU regulatory changes affecting the plastics sector have included a proposal to clarify through illustrations what waste is covered by the EU packaging and packaging waste directive. That includes plastic carrier bags, cling film and sandwich bags, for instance, but not plastic disposable cutlery.
• The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has published a list of plastics and other consumer articles that may contain chemicals it regards as being ‘substances of very high concern'. ECHA says the majority of these relate to four named phthalates: dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diisobutyl phthalate, benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) and bis (2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP). More information is at the website: echa.europa.eu.
• The EU's scientific committee on health and environmental risks has agreed that the polymer flame-retardant plasticizer and viscosity regulator tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) should be effectively banned in toys sold in the EU, (it is no longer used by EU manufacturers). A limit “should be set at the detection limit of a sufficiently sensitive analytical test method”, said the committee.
• The United States, the EU, Australia, Israel, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey, have joined forces at the World Trade Organization to complain about licensing requirements imposed by Argentina on imports of plastics and plastics products. Since January, Argentina has required pre-registration, review and approval for every import transaction “creating long delays and adding huge costs for many exporters.”