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EU states back BPA classification as reprotoxin

National governments in Europe acting through the Council of the European Union have endorsed a proposal to classify bisphenol A (BPA) as Class 1B toxic to reproduction in non-food contact applications.

The vote was in response to a proposal for reclassification from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). This will pass into EU law as one of a number of amendments to the ninth revision of Regulation 1272/2008 on classification, labelling, and packaging (CLP) of substances and mixtures.

The amendment text has already been approved by the European Commission. The final legislative hurdle is to secure the endorsement of the European Parliament. This step has now begun and will take three months. It is unlikely that MEPs, who are typically much keener than member state governments on banning potentially dangerous chemicals, will change this element of the proposal.

Once the parliament approves the new text and it is published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), the CLPamendment allows for an 18-month transition period.

Once the reclassification becomes active, it will make the compound eligible for classification as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) under the REACH Regulation 1907/2006,  and it can be prohibited from consumer items through a streamlined process.

The move was welcomed by public interest group the European Environmental Bureau. Its senior policy officer Tatiana Santos says: ‘Now that BPA is officially classified as a reprotoxicant, member states have a clear signal to take action to protect EU citizens from the exposure to BPA and avoid spending millions of euros on treating diseases linked with this substance. BPA can now directly be included on the REACH candidate list, meaning that the phase out and substitution of this substance would become a priority – rightly so.’

The REACH process overseen by the ECHA is different to that applied to food contact materials and coordinated by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) (see left). Any REACH action would apply to a number of other uses of BPA, however, such as electrical and electronic equipment, flooring, footwear, furniture, toys, and paperboard. For the later material the ECHA has already backed a restriction on BPA in thermal papers, like till receipts.

While the food packaging industry is already responding to popular pressure to move away from BPA, this step could accelerate the process, as it undercuts the market for non-food packaging applications of the controversial chemical.

This article comes from Food Contact World, which provides exclusive news and analysis on developments in digital print trends, markets, and technologies.