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.
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