Over the past few months, our annual Book Chain Project conference has been the focus for the team in London. The event involved a day of panel discussions and delved into topics on all aspects of the Book Chain Project, all under the theme of ‘The Story of Books’.
Set against panoramic views of the WWT London Wetlands Centre, we gathered together 11 speakers covering 5 sessions, and invited participating publishers, mills and suppliers to attend. Altogether, we had a packed room with over 60 people in attendance and speakers from a variety of companies.
The speakers covered various topics including; the economics behind recent pulp price rises; the various pressures on mill groups around the world; deforestation hotpots and NGO efforts to keep corporate commitments on track. We also dedicated a session to the issue of plastic where we had the lead Plastics Campaign manager from Friends of the Earth examining the different recyclable alternatives available and how these options could be implemented into the book making industry. In addition to that, with pressure to tackle human rights abuses in all supply chains from the Modern Slavery statements, we ran a session on human rights and heard some hard-hitting examples of corporate engagement to correct previous abuses with the help of the Forest Peoples Programme.
The day was a great success and ended with a tour of the wetlands and feedback has been incredibly positive with 50% of attendees rating the event as ‘Very Good’.
A database of over 4,000 chemical substances potentially found in plastic packaging, has been made publicly available. The Chemicals associated with Plastic Packaging (CPP) database (see CW; CRM) is the outcome of a collaboration between seven NGOs and research organisations in Europe and the US. The work has been submitted to Science of the Total Environment, and is now available, prior to peer review, as a preprint. The database is provided with the preprint as supplementary information.
EU member approved the proposal to restrict the phthalates DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP in articles. The four phthalates are on the REACH candidate list of SVHCs for their reprotoxic as well as endocrine disrupting properties. Under the proposal they would be restricted to a concentration equal to or below 0.1% by weight individually or in any combination in any plasticised material in articles used by consumers or those used in indoor areas. The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers now have three months to scrutinise the measure and the restriction will then be published in the EU’s Official Journal and will apply 18 months after the entry into force to products produced both in and outside of the EU.
In order to help consumers make informed choices for safer products while increasing pressure to substitute substances of concern, ECHA is going to establish a new database on the presence of hazardous chemicals in articles by the end of 2019 for waste treatment operators and consumers. The database will comprise information submitted by companies producing, importing or selling articles that contain Candidate List substances. Companies need to submit this information by the end of 2020. The work is based on the revised waste framework directive that entered into force in July 2018. It is part of the EU’s waste legislation package, contributing to the EU's circular economy policy.
ECHA has added eight new SVHCs to the Candidate List following the SVHC identification process with the involvement of the Member State Committee (MSC). Two further substances, TMA and DCHP, have also been added to the list, having been identified as SVHCs by the European Commission due to their respiratory sensitising properties and toxic for reproduction and endocrine-disrupting properties, respectively. The Commission’s decision follows the referral of the MSC opinions on these SVHC proposals in 2016.
Results of a market survey conducted by ECHA shows the volume of bisphenol S (BPS) used as developer in thermal paper manufactured in the EU doubled between 2016 and 2017. The market share of BPS-based thermal papers is expected to continue to increase in the coming years, and in particular after 2 January 2020, when BPA can no longer be used in thermal paper in the EU.
Vermont governor Phil Scott has vetoed a bill that would have given the state's health department increased latitude to ban or restrict children's products.
Bill S103, passed by the legislature earlier this month, sought to amend the state's existing children's product reporting scheme (Act 188).
In an EU/EEA-wide project of ECHA’s Enforcement Forum, inspectors found hundreds of consumer products with illegal amounts of restricted chemicals. Every fifth toy inspected contained high levels of restricted phthalates.
Ukraine has adopted legislation aimed at harmonising its toy safety regulation with that of the European Union. Cabinet ministers approved the new Technical Regulation on the Safety of Toys in February. It becomes effective on 21 September. The law establishes requirements on the safety of toys and their placement on the market, and defines the obligations of manufacturers, importers and distributors. It replaces the existing regulation, which was approved in 2013 and took into account the EU's 2009 Toy Safety Directive. The EU has subsequently made a number of amendments to its legislation. Ukraine's latest regulation slightly diverges from the EU Directive, in that it applies to products that have been developed or intended for children up to 14 years of age.
European Commission releases its 2017 report on the Rapid Alert System for dangerous products. In 2017, 'toys' was notified as product with the most risk (29%), followed by 'motor vehicles' (20%), and 'clothing, textiles and fashion items' (12%).
The majority of dangerous products notified in the system came from outside the EU. China is the number one country of origin, but the number of alerts remains stable at 53% (1,155) in 2017, same as the year before. The Commission continues to cooperate closely with Chinese authorities, working together to discuss specific cases and implement actions, such as exchange of good practices. Dangerous products of European origin accounted for 413 notifications (26%).
The toy industry has assured consumers that risk from chemicals in secondhand plastic toys is low, following a study in the UK that revealed the presence of hazardous elements. Research carried out at the University of Plymouth tested 200 toys from schools, charity shops and family homes for the presence of: antimony; arsenic; barium; cadmium; chromium; lead; mercury; selenium; and bromine (as a proxy for brominated flame retardants).
Trader Joe’s, the grocer known for its eclectic products, will remove two controversial substances from its register receipts, according to the company’s website. Sample of store receipts shows widespread use of BPA and substance is linked to hormone-disrupting effects in children.
ECHA has added seven new substances of very high concern (SVHC) to the Candidate List and updated the entry for bisphenol A (BPA) following the SVHC identification process with the involvement of the Member State Committee (MSC). New substances include Chrysene, Benz[a]anthracene, Cadmium nitrate, Cadmium hydroxide, Cadmium carbonate, etc. The BPA entry was updated to reflect an additional reason for inclusion due to its endocrine disrupting properties causing adverse effects to the environment.
US chain store Target has removed two fidget spinner models from sale, after a study from NGO the US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) study found they contained high levels of lead. The federal legal limit is 100 parts per million (ppm) for lead in children’s products, but fidget spinners are classified by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) as general use rather than as children’s products. They are only considered toys if labelled age 12 and under.
Trade association Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) welcomed the European Commission's final Opinion on the tolerable intake of aluminium, with regards to adapting the migration limits in toys. The Commission and its Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (Scheer) Opinion recommends a tolerable daily intake of aluminium, including from sources other than toys, of 0.3mg/kg of body weight per day.
EU experts have agreed to designate bisphenol A (BPA) as a human endocrine disruptor on top of its current repro-toxic classification, paving the way for an EU phase-out of the chemical. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced that its member state committee voted unanimously to classify the compound, used in polycarbonate plastics, inks and resins, a substance of very high concern (SVHC) under the EU REACH Regulation due to its endocrine-disrupting properties.
A dozen repro-toxic and carcinogenic substances will be phased out from the EU market within the next four years following the publication of the European Commission's decision. Eight repro-toxic substances, seven of them phthalates, will be banned from July 2020, with applications for individual uses accepted until January 2019. Anthracene oil and high-temperature coal-tar pitch must be phased out by October 2020, and the ban on two additional compounds classified as environmental endocrine disruptors will come into force on January 2021.
Over the last decade, an unprecedented amount of information about chemical hazards and exposure has been collected and stored in the databases of Echa. Echa has been taking research on the substances could be confidently categorised as high priority substances with likely hazards and likely exposure during use. But there are still 3,000 substances in what the agency describes as a ‘grey zone’ where it has insufficient information to make a determination about the risks they pose.
The Marketplace, launched by NGO ChemSec on 17 May, hosts marketing materials from suppliers and requests for products, as well as guidance and case studies on substitution. It makes it easier for businesses to find less problematic alternatives to toxic chemicals. Both the ChemSec and other initiatives had hitherto focused on informing the industry of what not to use, as described in its ‘SIN list’, rather than suggesting suitable substitutes. The Marketplace should help improve the visibility of alternatives.
An imitation Rubik’s Cube sold in bargain stores in the UK has been found to contain significant amounts of banned flame retardants. Tests conducted by chemical campaign network, IPEN, found that three ‘Magic Cube' toys contained octaBDE, a commercial mixture of hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether. The Magic Cube toys were bought from three independent shops in London, which have since been shut down. One of their suppliers remains active, but the publication (ENDS) was unable to make contact with them.