Proposed EU Ban on Lead in PVC Adopted

05.05.2023 - Within the framework of the REACh chemicals legislation, the European Commission said it is implementing previously discussed restrictions on the use of PVC in finished products to protect people and the environment from the toxic effects of lead.

Brussels’ new rules will prohibit the use of lead in PVC products sold on the European market, including imports. For the most part this would impact the construction industry exports from non-EU countries, where lead is often present in window profiles, pipes and tubes made of the plastics, as well as wires and cables.

The Commission said it expects the restrictions to prevent up to 8.4 tonnes of lead emissions annually and create a “level-playing field” between PVC products manufactured in the EU, where lead content has been banned since 2015, and imported articles.

Under the new rules, items containing recycled rigid PVC can still be sold and used in the EU for an undefined “certain period” to promote recycling and save 1.5 million t of CO2 emissions every year. To ensure recycling is safe, however, these must be completely covered by a lead-free layer, to prevent accidental exposure to lead, the EU governing body said.

At a REACh committee session in December 2022, member states nodded off on the proposed changes, and binding measures were approved by the European Parliament and the Council last month.

The Commission said it will continue to work with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) on ways to limit environmental and human exposure to lead, in line with the goals of the bloc’s Chemical Strategy for Sustainability and the European Green Deal.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist