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The EU Commission should not authorise the recycling of plastics that contain the banned softener diethylhexyl phthalate (DHEP), to make soft PVC items such as footwear and floor coverings, because it poses a reproductive toxicity threat to exposed workers and could render their male foetuses sterile, says a non-binding resolution adopted by Parliament on Wednesday.

“It is not acceptable to tolerate potentially numerous cases of male infertility simply to allow soft PVC recyclers and downstream users to save costs in the production of low-value articles so as to compete with low-quality imports”, say MEPs in the resolution. “Recycling should not justify the perpetuation of the use of hazardous legacy substances”, they add.

DEHP is banned by the EU’s REACH regulation, but the Commission has proposed, in a draft decision still to be approved by EU member states, to authorise the recycling of old plastics containing it into new PVC products.

DEHP is known to adversely affect the endocrine system in mammals, e.g. by reducing foetal testosterone. It can also irreversibly affect the rate at which a mammal develops as well as its reproductive capacity, says the text.

MEPs are concerned that the applicants did not demonstrate that the risks to workers' health were adequately controlled, and point to the serious nature of the adverse effects that can be caused by DEHP. They also stress that the applicants did not show that the socio-economic benefits arising from the use of the substance would outweigh its risks.


Next steps

The non-binding resolution, tabled by Pavel Poc (S&D, CZ), Kateřina Konečná (GUE/NGL, CZ) and Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, NL) was passed by 603 votes to 86, with 5 abstentions. The Council of Ministers, which still has to vote on the European Commission proposal, must approve or oppose the authorization by a qualified majority vote. If there is no qualified majority, then the decision will be the responsibility of the European Commission.

Procedure:  non-legislative resolution