European Initiatives for Selecting Sustainable Flame Retardants
Published:17 Apr 2013
Flame retardants, also often referred to as fire retardants, are a diverse group of chemical substances or formulations which are added to plastics, wood or textiles to reduce their propensity to ignite. Since the 1990s, flame retardants have started to raise environmental concerns, because some brominated flame retardants [e.g. polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)] were found to form halogenated dioxins and furans in uncontrolled combustion and because the flame retardants were found in various environmental compartments and biota, including humans. This also led to regulatory restrictions in Europe and elsewhere, e.g. the RoHS (European Directive on the Restriction of certain Hazardous Substances in Electric and Electronic Equipment, 2011/65/EU) and WEEE (European Directive on Waste of Electric and Electronic Equipment, 2012/19/EU) legislation. A number of flame retardant producers have responded to these concerns and formed the industry group pinfa (Phosphorus, Inorganic and Nitrogen Flame Retardants Association) in order to develop and promote more environmentally compatible products, focussing on non‐halogenated alternatives. This group has successfully engaged in European research initiatives for sustainable flame retardants and also alternatives assessments by the GreenScreen™ methodology or the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) design for environment projects. Other European drivers and activities towards the sustainability of flame retardants are also presented in this chapter.