Europe’s technology industries are fully committed to reducing the content of hazardous substances in their products to support a more circular economy and a healthier environment. However, the proposed general ban on the production, use, and market availability of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) would significantly impact on our industries’ ability to produce robust and reliable products. Here are our key messages on the proposed PFAS restriction:
1. Implementing a blanket PFAS ban will jeopardise the fulfillment of the Green Deal (climate goals and circular economy): The technology industry offers a wide array of solutions for current challenges, such as semiconductors, lithium batteries, heat pumps, high-temperature seals, specialised refrigeration equipment, technologies for energy transmission and distribution, energy-efficient industrial equipment, and sustainable professional goods. These products can only be produced today with the use of PFAS and would not work at all or work significantly less efficiently without it. The current proposal would result in reduced product durability and a substantial increase in waste generation. Therefore, restricting substances should not be implemented without a differentiated consideration of their uses and the consequences.
2. A risk-based and substance-based approach should be used for PFAS. We consider the proposed blanket restriction of all PFAS, regardless of their toxicity and risk profile disproportionate.
3. Use of PFAS must remain possible as long as there is no full-scale availability of suitable and technically developed substitutes.
4. The introduction of an information obligation for "intentionally added" PFAS prior to the introduction of targeted restrictions will allow all relevant uses to be included in the assessment in due time and any necessary exemptions to be applied for.
5. A long-term general derogation with review before expiration of fluoropolymers without relevant risk is necessary.
6. A clearly defined procedure for the application, review and extension of derogations is crucial, especially in the case of a broad restriction on previously non-declarable substances. The derogations currently envisaged are insufficient and do not take into account the relevance of PFAS for a wide range of uses and ongoing innovations in the technology industry.
7. The repair-as-produced principle shall be applied. Indefinite derogations for spare parts, refurbished parts, and equipment as well as products already having been placed on the market for the first time shall be granted.
8. Ensuring effective enforcement through the market surveillance system will foster a level playing field.