A European Parliament environmental committee has voted to further limit the use of hazardous materials in the electronics industry, and has extended the scope of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, but some believe that the committee has not gone far enough.
ChemSec, a not-for-profit environmental group which liaises with governments and other organisations, said that the European Parliament Environment Committee has failed to follow the industry lead at a cost to the planet.
"The failure of MEPs to introduce new restrictions on brominated flame retardants [BFRs] and PVC plastic is a disappointment and a missed opportunity, " said ChemSec in a statement.
The committee rejected proposals to include BFRs on its list of restricted substances, despite their obvious harmful nature. ChemSec warned that the dioxins that such materials release are some of the "most hazardous compounds created by man", and could lead to cancer and birth defects.
"The well-established scientific evidence on the problems to human and environmental health of BFRs and PVC is overwhelming," said Frida Hök, ChemSec RoHS project manager.
"In the last decade, the scientific literature to an ever greater extent has demonstrated the negative impact of BFRs and PVC on human health and the environment.
She argued that "it is remarkable" that the European Parliament committee didn't decide to phase out of these chemicals.
ChemSec claimed that there are a number of alternatives to the materials, many of which are already being used in the electronics industry. The group cited companies including Dell, Acer, HP and Sony Ericsson as supporters of other materials, and called on the European Parliament to make this the norm.
"Large parts of industry are undergoing a transition to BFR and PVC-free, with a supply chain able to provide safer alternatives for these hazardous chemicals," said ChemSec senior policy advisor Nardono Nimpuno.
"With others yet to follow, awaiting clear signals from lawmakers, it is unsatisfactory that legislators do not provide sustainable guidance on which direction to take. The technical capability is there, the science is there, but the legislators are flinching."
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