Minimising risks for people and the environment
Borealis has a clear vision to minimise the risk to people and the environment posed by using chemicals. The Company follows all regulatory developments in the countries where it operates and sells its products, and has introduced a system that allows it to anticipate growing consumer concern about certain chemicals that are also used in its processes and products. This Hazardous Chemicals Strategy will enable Borealis to develop products for the market of tomorrow.
Borealis' Product Stewardship group monitors developments in both regulation and public perception for all relevant hazardous chemicals that either fulfil, or are suspected to fulfil, SVHC criteria1. The substances are ranked by their risk, using a tailor-made tool. Data about the highest risk substances are collected and analysed and the case is presented to the Product Stewardship Committee. This is a cross-functional body which also includes representatives of the business sectors, innovation and operations departments. The Committee thoroughly discusses these high-risk substances and their use by Borealis, and decides if a risk mitigation project should be started for the cases discussed. A mitigation project can comprise a substitution project, technical solutions to enhance chemical transformations or improve processes, new installations to guarantee safe handling in Borealis' plants, or active collaboration in the supply chain.
Open communication to internal and external stakeholders is one of the cornerstones of Responsible Care®. Borealis takes this obligation very seriously. This webpage allows every interested person to find information about substances that Borealis has banned for use in its production processes and products, as well as examples of successful substitutions of hazardous chemicals and some position statements regarding "hot topics".
1) SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern) criteria as defined in Article 57 of the REACH Regulation: CMR (carcinogenic category 1A or 1B, germ cell mutagenic category 1A or 1B, toxic for reproduction category 1A or 1B), PBT (persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic), vPvB (very persistent and very bioaccumulative), and substances that give rise to an equivalent level of concern (e.g. endocrine disruptors)
Borealis is a chemical manufacturer committed to the Responsible Care Global Charter. The Company therefore bans certain substances from use in its production processes and products, when those substances are dangerous for human health or the environment. Borealis also applies a precautionary approach to certain substances that are still being assessed by regulatory authorities, due to the substances' potential health or environmental risks.
The Borealis "Banned Substances List" is available on the Company's website and includes substances such as potential endocrine disruptors, phthalates and brominated flame retardants. The listed substances are not used in any Borealis production process or intentionally added to Borealis' products. They are also banned from being used in the future, unless there is substantial scientific evidence leading to a changed assessment. Borealis regularly reviews the list, in the light of more recent risk assessments or re-classification of chemicals, specifically in connection with ECHA candidate list updates.
As a chemical company, Borealis still uses certain hazardous chemicals. With its new Hazardous Chemicals Strategy, the Company is taking a differentiated approach to tackling this situation.
Borealis has substituted hazardous chemicals since the beginning. This has been an even greater focus since 2008, when the Company published the first Borealis Banned substances List. Since then, Borealis has successfully phased out several substances. Here are some example success stories, which will be updated with more recent examples on a regular basis.
Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) is a UL-listed flame retardant. In the US, flame retardation must meet building code requirements and Borealis therefore used the substance as a flame retardant for wire and cable insulation compounds. In 2008, Borealis substituted DecaBDE in anticipation of a voluntary agreement between the big manufacturers in the US and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In collaboration with its supplier, Borealis found a less hazardous new brominated flame retardant that fulfilled the UL standard.
In Europe, DecaBDE has been restricted by the EU RoHS Directive since 2002. It was added to the REACH Candidate list of SVHC for authorisation in 2012, for its persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) properties. There is a restriction proposal under debate that would effectively mean a full ban for the substance, apart from certain spare parts and uses in aircrafts.
Although DecaBDE is still allowed in the US, the implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act means that DecaBDE is likely to be one of the first priority chemicals to be assessed and regulated by the EPA.
Tris(nonylphenyl)phosphite (TNPP) was present as an antioxidant in the external resin used in Borealis compounds intended for fish packaging. There was growing concern in the market and among the public that the substance would be persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) or very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB). Borealis found an alternative material on the market containing a less hazardous antioxidant, which was evaluated not to be PBT/vPvB by a member state's competent authority. Borealis stopped using TNPP in 2010.
TNPP is currently under the REACH substance evaluation regime (CoRAP). The French competent authorities (Anses) are checking its suspected PBT/vPvB properties. The decision is still pending.
Nonylphenolethxoxylate (NPE) was used as a surfactant in one of the supplied polyolefin additives. The final concentration in Borealis' products was less than 10 ppm. In 2013 Borealis fully replaced NPE, which had come under increasing pressure from NGOs and authorities (in particular the European Chemicals Agency and the US Environmental Protection Agency) for its endocrine disruptive (ED) properties. As a consequence, Borealis approached its supplier, which was eventually able to substitute it with a less hazardous surfactant. In addition, Borealis found other suppliers that do not use any surfactant for an equivalent product.
In 2012, NPE was added to the REACH candidate list of SVHC for authorisation for its ED properties. There is also an EU-wide new restriction published, restricting the use of NPE in textiles from 2021 onwards.
Crystalline silica was used as an antiblocking agent in some PE film grades. In 2010, Borealis replaced it with amorphous, synthetic silica for this use. The International Agency for Research on Cancer had found it to cause cancer when inhaled.
The French competent authorities are currently preparing a dossier to propose that this substance is classified as carcinogenic. The dossier is expected in March 2017.