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ClientEarth Communications

15th December 2016

Access to Justice for a Greener Europe

Commission to face EU judges over toxic plastics approval

The Commission has ignored ClientEarth’s call to stop plastics recyclers using a hormone-harming chemical which causes infertility and developmental problems in children.

ClientEarth is now preparing to take the case before the EU Court.

ClientEarth filed the legal challenge after the Commission said VinyLoop Ferrera, Stena Recycling and Plastic Planet could use endocrine disruptor DEHP for another four years.

The Commission’s authorisation means that recycled plastics containing this dangerous chemical may be turned into part of shoes, luggage or into yoga mats, even many companies already use safe alternatives.

ClientEarth Brussels-based chemicals lawyer, Alice Bernard, said: “We are disappointed by the Commission’s response, because this authorisation is a huge mistake. It threatens EU citizens and the environment and puts the authorisation process on the wrong track for cases to come.

“The Commission’s approval of DEHP, despite the companies not submitting information required by law - and proof that safe alternatives are available - clearly shows how the chemicals authorisation process currently works – with scant regard for the law or people’s health.

“In rejecting our call to stop use of DEHP, the Commission missed a good opportunity to fix this issue. We hope that bringing the case to the EU Court will be a first step to a chemicals approval process that protects people and the planet.”

The decision ClientEarth is contesting was based on a deeply flawed application that was missing key information required by law.

The Commission also illegally ignored proof that safer alternatives were available, and approved the use of DEHP even though the plastics recyclers did not show that the benefits to society outweighed the risks.

ClientEarth filed the request to review the approval on 2 August 2016, and the Commission replied, after asking for extra time to consider the arguments. The case will be filed before the EU Court in February 2017.

This is the first time an NGO has been given permission to sue the Commission over a chemicals approval. To be given standing in the EU Court is hugely significant and could lead to many more cases in the future.