Phasing out PBDE

Full name: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers.

Background: Polybromodiphenyl ether congeners including tetraBDE, pentaBDE, hexaBDE, and heptaBDE inhibit or suppress combustion in organic materials and therefore have been widely used as flame retardants since the 1990s. They can also be found in a large number of products including plastics, furniture, textiles and electronics. The production of PBDEs has stopped in 2004 but large amounts are still in use and will end in waste streams.

Hazardous effects: PBDEs are toxic chemicals that have been detected in humans and in the environment in all regions and that constitute a serious threat for ecosystems and human health.

PBDEs and the Stockholm Convention: PBDEs were added to the annexes of the Stockholm Convention with other new POPs in 2009.

PBDEs Management in Asia

Parties to the Chemicals and Waste Multilateral Environment Agreements have requested the assistance of UNEP Chemicals Branch in meeting obligations in relation to newly listed persistent organic pollutants - i.e.,PBDEs in the Asian region.

In response to this request, the Science and Risk Unit of UNEP Chemicals Branch is collaborating with the Basel and Stockholm Conventions Regional Centers for Capacity Building in China (SCRCAP) in the execution of a project funded by the China Trust Fund. Other project partners are the following participating countries and the ASEAN-China Center for Capacity-building.

Participating countries: Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.

The project will provide technical assistance and capacity building to governments in exchanging information on the environmentally sound management of PBDEs and waste contaminated with PBDEs, including regulatory framework and technology awareness. The project plans to identify and capitalize on existing national/regional ongoing initiatives in chemicals and waste management. More specifically, the following are undertaken:

1) Establish an information platform on PBDEs management and operational activities;

2) Produce awareness-raising materials on PBDEs management;

3) Undertake and accomplish a feasibility study on separation and disposal of PBDEs containing waste;

4) Organize a regional training workshop to promote the information platform and share lessons learned.

This project has a direct link with the GEF project “Subregional Action Plan (Asia) for PBDEs Management and Reduction”, by developing a platform within the region for exchange of information, knowledge, experiences and lessons learned which strengthen the GEF project’s sustainability (PIF approved).