BASF Opposes Extension of HBCD Flame Retardants

20.06.2014 -

BASF has expressed its opposition to EU extension of permission to use hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) flame retardants - used mainly to fireproof polystyrene foam - as sought by some of its European rivals.

Under the REACH legislation, HBCD, which is listed as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) by the United Nations Environment Program, will be banned from August 21, 2015 unless expressly authorized for an applicant.

In February of this year, a consortium of 13 expandable polystyrene (EPS) producers including Ineos, Versalis, StyroChem and Syntho jointly petitioned the European Chemicals Agency, ECHA, for an extension of HBCD use. In May, the agency launched a public consultation on the application, scheduled to run until July 9.

"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, referring to the new polymeric flame retardant (PolyFR), for which a superior environmental profile is claimed.

Sufficient capacities are available to meet European and global demand, said BASF, which recently announced it would switch its entire portfolio to the new flame retardant by the end of 2014. Demand for flame retardant EPS in Europe could already be met by EPS containing PolyFR in the second half of 2014, the world's largest chemical group added.

According to BASF, extensive tests with EPS and extruded polystyrene (XPS) containing PolyFR have shown that the foam properties are equal to those of material containing HBCD. This, it said, has allowed a fast track certification of insulation boards for building applications by the responsible authorities.