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EU should review approval of plastics with toxic softener DEHP - court adviser

Kate Abnett
·2 min read

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS, Feb 25 (Reuters) - The European Commission should review a decision to let companies use recycled plastics containing DEHP, a toxic additive, since it failed to properly consider associated health risks, an adviser to the EU's top court said on Thursday.

The EU agreed in 2016 to let three companies use recycled plastics containing the softener DEHP (diethylhexyl phthalate), despite opposition from politicians and environmentalists who say exposure to the chemical poses a danger to human health.

Recycled plastics are commonly used in shoes and floors.

DEHP poses toxic threats to the reproductive system and is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it interferes with hormones. Its use in the EU requires authorisation by the European Commission, because of those risks.

The EU said allowing the companies to use recycled plastics with DEHP would reduce waste material, and that this benefit outweighed the risks.

The European Commission refused a request from legal charity ClientEarth to review its decision, and in 2019 a lower EU court also dismissed ClientEarth's request.

But in its non-binding opinion, the Court sided with ClientEarth.

Advocate General Juliane Kokott said the court should force the Commission to reconsider ClientEarth's request for a review, since the Commission had failed to consider the full health risks of DEHP.

The Commission had considered DEHP's reproductive-toxicity properties, but not its endocrine-disrupting properties.

The court typically rules within two to four months of an adviser’s opinion. Judges follow them in the majority of cases, but are not bound to do so.

The European Commission could not immediately be reached for comment.

Separately, the Court ruled on Thursday that the EU had authorised the sale of paint pigments containing dangerous chemicals, despite safer options being available.

ClientEarth said the ruling, in a case brought by the Swedish government, would set a precedent forcing the EU to tighten its checks before approving dangerous chemicals. (Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by John Stonestreet)