EPPA welcomes REACH lead restriction as important first step
6/6/2023 Experts Know-how

EPPA welcomes REACH lead restriction as important first step

A recently published legal text bans the sale of PVC articles containing lead on the European market.

A pile of plastic window profiles © EPPA

The recently published legal text, adopted after joint legislation by the Commission, Member States and the European Parliament, bans the sale of PVC articles containing lead on the European market. The restriction applies to all PVC products that cannot be recycled in a closed loop and makes an explicit exception for plastic window profiles that contain lead as a "legacy additive" only in the recyclate.

EPPA welcomes this regulatory action, which prevents any import of new lead-containing PVC products into the European market. EPPA members phased out lead (pb) as a stabilizer in 2004 and have been using calcium-zinc (cazn) stabilizers in new plastic profiles since then. At the same time, European legislators have underlined their clear commitment to the circular economy by continuing to allow lead (pb) as a "legacy additive" in PVC recyclate (rPVC-U) in the production of new plastic profiles for building products.

"The PVC window profile industry has implemented a closed material loop over the past 25 years. Our production and recycling sites keep the PVC material in a traceable cycle from plastic profile to plastic profile. Recycling PVC - and its 'legacy additive' lead - in a closed loop has proven to be the most sustainable management of the material and substance. We welcome that the EU legislator recognizes this fact and will thus continue to invest in this closed loop for our application," comments Carsten Heuer, Chairman of EPPA.


Following this example

Given EPPA's voluntary commitment to collect and recycle 50 percent of available end-of-life windows and related building profiles in Europe by 2030 and use its recyclate, the association sees the REACH restriction as an important first step on which further action must build: Waste and product legislation must follow the example of REACH, where a thorough scientific assessment of the risks, socio-economic impacts and environmental effects has concluded that closed-loop recycling, with appropriate traceability of the material, is the right way forward.

"We call on national and European legislators to continue paving the way for our industry to further increase the amount of PVC recyclate used. To do this, applicable EU legislation must be brought in line with the just adopted restriction on lead (pb) in PVC. Applications that are recycled in a safe, traceable, closed-loop system should not face additional barriers in the marketplace," Heuer added.


Trend continues

Based on a current inventory of more than 600 million PVC windows in Europe, the industry expects a linear increase in available PVC window waste over the next few years. The implementation of the EU renovation wave will further strengthen this trend, he said.

Gerald Feigenbutz
Qualitätsverband Kunststofferzeugnisse e.V., RAL Gütegemeinschaft Kunststoff-Fensterprofilsysteme e.V., Bonn

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