20 September 2019
The General Court of the EU has confirmed that bisphenol A (BPA) – a chemical used to make plastics –must be listed as a ‘substance of very high concern’ for its hormonal disrupting properties on the human body.
The Court upheld a previous decision by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to identify the substance, which is used in the manufacture of food containers, plastic bottles, and receipts, as hazardous for the endocrine system. BPA is already banned in the EU for some products – such as baby bottles- due to concerns about its effects on the hormonal and reproductive system.
ClientEarth intervened before the Court to support ECHA’s decision to officially identify Bisphenol A as an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC), and therefore of high concern.
Dr Apolline Roger, ClientEarth chemical lawyer said:
“There is no doubt that Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor. But in this case, lobby group PlasticsEurope tried to make it impossible for endocrine disruptors to be listed as ‘substances of very high concern’. This classification obliges industry to share information with the supply chain and consumers about the chemical’s hazardous effects and how to minimise them. PlasticsEurope should focus on investing in innovation to replace BPA with safer alternatives instead of fighting against the regulation of this chemical which raises more and more concern the more research is carried out.”
EDCs can mimic, interfere with or block hormones triggering abnormal processes in the body. They can affect sperm quality and fertility but also lead to early puberty, cancer, heart disease or obesity. A study has shown that traces of EDCs, such as bisphenols and phthalates, can be found in all human bodies.
Dr Roger added: “We are glad the Court confirmed that Bisphenol A, which is one of the first chemicals discovered as mimicking a natural hormone, should be identified as a substance of very high concern under EU law because of its impact on human health. We hope this judgement will open the gate for other EDCs to be identified and we encourage public authorities to do so.”
Two months ago, the General Court already confirmed that BPA was toxic for human reproduction in a previous case brought by PlasticsEurope.
The group also challenged the identification of Bisphenol A as an endocrine disruptor with impact on the environment. The hearing for this third case is expected to be around October.
In all three cases, ClientEarth acted as an intervener – supporting the defendant in its defence against PlasticsEurope challenge before EU Courts.
ClientEarth is a charity that uses the power of the law to protect people and the planet. We are international lawyers finding practical solutions for the world’s biggest environmental challenges. We are fighting climate change, protecting oceans and wildlife, making forest governance stronger, greening energy, making business more responsible and pushing for government transparency. We believe the law is a tool for positive change. From our offices in London, Brussels, Warsaw, Berlin, New York City and Beijing, we work on laws throughout their lifetime, from the earliest stages to implementation. And when those laws are broken, we go to court to enforce them.