BASF opposes the authorization of a prolonged use of the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD). The use of HBCD – a flame retardant primarily used for polystyrene-based insulating foams and textiles – will be banned as of August 21, 2015 under the European Union’s REACH chemicals legislation unless it is expressly authorized for an applicant. Furthermore, HBCD is listed as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has launched a public consultation on the application by a consortium that is requesting to continue using HBCD. BASF will argue that authorization is unnecessary. “A safer and better alternative to HBCD is available and already successfully introduced,” said Giorgio Greening, Senior Vice President of BASF’s global business unit for polystyrene foams. “There is therefore no good reason to deviate from the original deadline for replacing HBCD.”
Over the past years, a new polymeric flame retardant (PolyFR) with a superior environmental profile has been developed, tested and approved as an alternative to HBCD. “PolyFR has been positively tested as a replacement for HBCD in polystyrene insulating foams, and sufficient capacities are available to meet European and global demand. A quick transition to PolyFR is therefore both possible and in the best interests of the industry,” said Greening. HBCD has served the industry well for decades but now there is a better alternative.”
Extensive tests with expandable polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS) containing PolyFR have shown that the foam properties are equal to those of material containing HBCD. This has allowed a fast track certification of insulation boards for building applications by the responsible authorities. Demand for flame retardant EPS in Europe could already be met by EPS containing PolyFR in the second half of 2014. In May this year, BASF announced that it would switch all grades of Styrodur® XPS rigid foam and EPS products Styropor® and Neopor® in Europe to PolyFR by the end of 2014. A growing number of other producers are also using PolyFR as a substitute for HBCD.
BASF is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection products to oil and gas. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. Through science and innovation, we enable our customers in nearly every industry to meet the current and future needs of society. Our products and solutions contribute to conserving resources, ensuring nutrition and improving quality of life. We have summed up this contribution in our corporate purpose: We create chemistry for a sustainable future. BASF had sales of about €74 billion in 2013 and over 112,000 employees as of the end of the year. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (AN). Further information on BASF is available on the Internet at www.basf.com.