The EU Green Week 2021 will take place from the 1st till the 4th of June and will count with various additional partner events in Europe during the month of June.
This year’s edition will be dedicated to the ‘zero pollution ambition’. It will also look at other relevant European Green Deal initiatives, such as the climate initiatives, the upcoming Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, as well as initiatives in the fields of energy, industry, mobility, agriculture, fisheries, health and biodiversity.
The International Bromine Council (BSEF) and its members strongly support the Green Week dialogue and the EU Commission efforts for a circular economy which would contribute to a more sustainable and greener future.
Bromine-based technologies already contribute to more sustainability and circular solutions. Bromine offers solutions to a wide range of environmental, social and economic needs including water treatment, reduction of mercury emissions, fire safety, energy storage and generation, production of pharmaceuticals and enhanced quality rubber for durability and safety.
THE ZERO POLUTION ACTION PLAN: A HEALTHY PLANET FOR ALL
The zero pollution vision for 2050 is for air, water and soil pollution to be reduced to levels no longer considered harmful to health and natural ecosystems, that respect the boundaries with which our planet can cope, thereby creating a toxic-free environment.
The chemical industry, with its substantial innovative capacity, is a key enabler in the development of solutions to achieve the zero pollution vision, to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and contribute to meeting the goals of the European Green Deal, the Paris agreement and the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
THE BROMINE INDUSTRY CONTRIBUTIONS
Bromine-based products are used to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. Today more than 37% of the world’s electricity is generated by coal power plants (according to the World Coal Association). When added at different stages of the combustion process Bromine-based technologies can help reducing mercury emissions by over 90%.
Mercury is considered by the World Health Organisation as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern, and for that reason the Minamata Convention that aims to protect human health and the environment from Mercury Emissions was adopted in 2013 and has 128 signatories, including the European Union and 26 EU Member States.
BSEF members fully subscribe to the goals of the Minamata Convention by developing bromine-based technologies that will help in the reduction of atmospheric mercury emissions. BSEF is also a member of the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership and has developed synergies with the IEA – Clean Coal Center.
The sustainable management of water is one of today’s greatest challenges. The earth’s growing population is rocketing and so is the demand for water for personal, industrial and agricultural use.
Bromine-based products are ideal solutions for water treatment applications thanks to bromine’s ability to kill harmful contaminants by combining with bacteria and other living organisms in water.
Bromine-based products are used to ensure clean water in many essential industrial applications such as cooling water systems, breweries, paper mills systems and swimming pools and spas.
Bromine is effective against tough waterborne viruses, such as poliovirus, and rotaviruses as well as a wide spectrum of bacteria. It also reacts with other substances in water to form bromine-containing substances.
SUPPORTING THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Addressing emissions of BFRs during production and use
BSEF and its member companies have been working hard to control and reduce emissions of BFRs to the environment. Since 2004 the industry has had in place ‘The Voluntary Emission Control Action Program (VECAP)’ - a product stewardship scheme for the management of chemicals throughout the value chain which goes beyond regulatory and legislative requirements.
Since its creation, VECAP best practices have helped to dramatically reduce polymer additives emissions. VECAP’s advice helped ensure that in Europe in 2016, over 83% of all brominated flame retardants sold by members of BSEF - The International Bromine Council - were handled correctly by producers and users. In under a decade, the results of the European Progress Reports show that potential emissions of TBBPA and HBCD have fallen to less than 0.001% of the volumes sold.
Addressing the impact of BFRs on plastics recycling
At the end of life, plastics products containing brominated flame retardants can undergo several waste management treatment options depending on the amount and composition of the plastics waste stream as well as on local conditions.
BSEF support several legislative initiatives concerning the collection and recycling of electrical and electronic equipment, notably the Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and Circular Electronics Initiative.
Recently Sofies Sustainability consultants published a report, entitled “Impacts of Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) on the recycling of WEEE plastics” that assesses the impact of over 80 different commercially available Bromine compounds on the recycling of WEEE plastics. The study welcomed by APPLiA, (European Home Appliance Association), and EERA (European Electronics Recyclers Association) concludes that 98% of BFR plastics collected can currently be separated and disposed of through official WEEE recycling channels and that are not hindering the recycling of WEEE plastics.
The bromine industry, along with its value chain, is also innovating the way it helps manage materials with legacy chemicals. One example of this is the EU LIFE co-funded Polystyrene Loop Project, designed to provide a large scale demonstration plant using the CreaSolv dissolution process. The project involves the construction of a plant that can handle 3,000 tonnes/year of PS waste adjacent to ICL-IP’s Terneuzen plant in the Netherlands. This is scheduled to start operations in June 2021.
Sponsoring innovations to help track chemical additives in materials flows
BSEF, its colleagues in the North American Flame Retardant Alliance (NAFRA) and its member companies, are also supporting a new approach to sorting and separating legacy BFRs from non-restricted BFRs using novel blockchain technology.
The pilot project involves a chemical-based hidden ‘barcode’ system pioneered by Security Matters, alongside a unique ‘reader’ to identify these codes. These will enable a blockchain record to be developed to store and protect ownership data. The technology will be used to differentiate current and new BFR technologies from legacy BFR chemistry.
The bromine industry is committed to working closely with policymakers, regulatory authorities, its value chains and other stakeholders to encourage further sustainable, end-of-life solutions to support the Circular Economy and importantly, minimise emissions to the environment.
About BSEF – The International Bromine Council
BSEF – the International Bromine Council, is the global representative body for bromine producers and producers of bromine technologies. Originally founded in 1997, BSEF works to foster knowledge on the societal benefits of bromine and its applications. The members of BSEF are Albemarle Corporation, ICL Industrial Products, Lanxess and Tosoh.
Follow BSEF at Twitter @bromineinfo and LinkedIn.