EU Court Upholds Toxic Designation for Chemical BPA

(CN) – A trade group for the plastics industry failed to persuade the European General Court on Thursday that the industrial chemical BPA should not be classified as toxic.

The European Commission labeled Bisphenol A, as the compound is otherwise known, as “toxic for reproduction” in 2016, and the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) issued a recommendation shortly thereafter to have the compound listed under a regulation known as REACH, short for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals.

BPA is ubiquitous in plastic products, and the group PlasticsEurope reacted swiftly when the European Chemicals Agency updated the candidate list of REACH substances to include BPA in 2017.

The European General dismissed the challenge Thursday, finding that a substance cannot be exempted from the REACH Regulation just because it has intermediate uses, such as in the manufacture of polymers. (The ruling offers the example of thermal paper /manufacturing as a nonintermediate purpose of BPA.)

“The contested decision is consistent with the objective of sharing information on substances of very high concern within the supply chain and with consumers,” the opinion states. “The fact that certain substances of very high concern used as intermediates may benefit from the special conditions for registration … does not call into question the need to subject such substances to the information-sharing regime.”

Even if intermediate uses cannot be the subject of an authorization, the court rejected the argument that the designation with respect to all BPA’s uses triggers significant legal obligations for suppliers.

“In so far as the applicant has doubts as to the proportionality of the contested decision because intermediate uses do not play a role in the [REACH designation] of a substance, … it should be recalled that the contested decision is intended to achieve the objective in connection with the sharing of information on substances within the supply chain,” the opinion states. “The legal effects of the contested decision do not go beyond what is appropriate and necessary to achieve that aim.”

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