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The objectionable role of the EU in the international toxics negotiations

The adverse role of the European Union in international toxic substance negotiations

At the United Nations meeting, the European Union pushed the danger standards of three toxic flame-retardant chemicals widely used in building insulation, interior decoration and electronic products (hexabromocyclododecane, pentabromodiphenyl ether and octabromodiphenyl ether) to The Basel Convention, Rotterdam Convention and Stockholm Convention, which were held from 4 to 15 in May 2015 in Geneva.

These three toxic chemicals are included in the "Stockholm Convention" for global elimination. They are ubiquitous in the global environment and can disrupt the human hormone system, potentially adversely affecting the development of the nervous system and children's cognitive function.

The EU proposal hopes to retain these toxic flame retardants in products and recycled products such as children’s toys, food containers and soft furniture. The main argument of this move is to protect the European recycling industry. However, Europe’s Zero Waste has debated the importance of ensuring a non-toxic circular economy and strengthening product policies that will exclude toxic substances from material recycling as a way to ensure future quality recovery.

"There is no circular economy without cleaner production. The bridge between product, waste and chemical legislation is a key aspect of making it work. Retaining this flame retardant is a step backwards from the circular economy", Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director of ZWE Say.

To be precise, Zero Waste Europe and FOEE, ChemTrust and EEB have recently called on the EU to find the right balance between encouraging recycling and avoiding the reinjection of hazardous substances into the economy, and jointly proposed some key principles to ensure clean, effective and A sustainable circular economy includes the removal of problematic substances from products at the design stage, chemical regulations for products that fully comply with the application for waste termination criteria, and appropriate marking, as well as other key requirements.

The EU's proposal at the United Nations Conference in Geneva not only allows EU consumers to use toxic recycled products, but if waste is imported there, it will also affect developing countries. Therefore, this move will shift the toxic burden from the global north to the global south, where the capacity to dispose of contaminated waste is generally limited and may increase health problems and overall well-being.

African countries are deeply concerned about the EU's position in Geneva. "We don't want to recycle toxic chemicals into African children's toys, and we don't think EU children should play with them," said Tadesse Amera of PAN Ethiopia. "The European Union has sent us e-waste, and now they seem to want to increase our toxic burden."

Jindrich Petrlik from the Arnika Association said: “As a non-governmental organization headquartered in the European Union, we find that the European Union violates the integrity of the Stockholm Convention and puts economic interests before human health and the environment. We are ashamed. This is poisoning. Circular Economy."

For more information, download:

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