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Plastic

Overview of European Plastics Industry

The European plastics industry - plastics producers, converters and machinery manufacturers - are a major contributor to the European economy. The industry directly employs some 1.6 million people and many more that work in industries relying on plastics for their business. The industry has grown continuously for over 50 years. Production increased from 1.5 million tonnes in 1950 to 230 million tonnes in 2009.

The end use application of plastics involves many industries with the packaging industry being the largest segment representing 40.1% of overall demand. This is followed by Building and Construction (20.4%), Automotive (7%) and Electrical and Electronic equipment (5.6%). Others include different small segments like sport, leisure, agriculture, machinery, engineering, etc.

Until 2008, the European Union was an important net exporter of plastic products. For plastics materials the biggest export markets remain China (including Hongkong), Turkey and Russia. For converted products EU exports primarily go to three countries; USA (12.2%), Russia (11.6%) and China (5.4%). The main products exported are plastic plates, sheets, films, foils, tapes and strips. This represents 36% of all EU plastic exports.

However, since 2008, this situation has changed. Fuelled by an economic boom, China has become a significant exporter of plastic products, accounting for plastic products, accounting for 33% of all global exports in 2009. Additionally, only 2% of the total exported plastic products are converted products. The total exported plastic products are converted products.

REACH and Plastics Industry

It is well known fact that chemically plastics are polymers or polymer containing material. Polymers are the material of choice in a vast range of applications such as packaging, building and construction, transportation, electrical and electronic equipment, agriculture, as well as in the medical and the sports sectors.

Owing to the potentially extensive number of different polymer substances on the market, and since polymer molecules are generally regarded as representing a low concern due to their high molecular weight, this group of substances is exempted from registration and evaluation under REACH. Polymers may however still be subject to authorisation and restriction.

Nonetheless, manufacturers and importers of polymers may still be required to register the monomers or other substances used as building blocks of the polymer, as these molecules are generally recognised as of higher concern than the polymer molecule itself.

REACH definition of Monomer and Polymer

REACH defines a monomer as a substance which is capable of forming covalent bonds with a sequence of additional like or unlike molecules under the conditions of the relevant polymer forming reaction used for the particular process (Article 3(6)). In other words, it is a substance which, via the polymerisation reaction, is converted into a repeating unit of the polymer sequence.

In accordance with REACH (Article 3(5)), a polymer is defined as a substance meeting the following criteria:

(a) Over 50 percent of the weight for that substance consists of polymer molecules (see definition below); and,
(b) The amount of polymer molecules presenting the same molecular weight must be less than 50 weight percent of the substance.

Polymer, as any other substance defined in Article 3(1), can also contain additives necessary to preserve the stability of the polymer and impurities deriving from the manufacturing process. These stabilisers and impurities are considered to be part of the substance and do not have to be registered separately. Stabilisers include, for example, heat stabilisers, anti-oxidants (both useful during extrusion) and light stabilisers (e.g. for preservation during use). Impurities are unintended constituents of the polymer such as catalysts residues or unreacted monomers.

However for performance enhancers, registration requirements apply. Examples of such substances include masterbatches, pigments, lubricants, thickeners, antistatic agents, antifogging agents, nucleating agents and flame retardants.

SVHC Chemicals generally used in Plastics Industries

The most controversial is Bis (2- ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), Dibutyl phthalate (DBP). These have been detected in many products frequently used by children such as crayons, bar ends of certain bikes, erasers and school bags. It has also been identified in suckers, plastic spoons and forks, boxes for microwave ovens, milk package bags, disposable cups, plates and bowls, plastic shoes.
Refractory Ceramic Fibres may be used in electrical and domestic appliances such as glass ceramic hobs, electric ovens and microwave ovens.
2,4-Dinitrtoluene has been used in automotive airbags.
Anthracene oil can be used, among others, as an impregnation agent, mostly as a wood preservative, but also sometimes for ropes and sailcloth.
Lead chromate is mainly used in the manufacture of pigments and dyes and as pigments in paint and varnishes.
Lead sulfochromate is used in paints and primarily in the plastics industry.
Tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate can be released from numerous household products that have been treated with flame retardants. These include carpets and plastic materials (electronic devices, TVs, car interiors).
Coal tar pitch can have a secondary use in paints and coatings for anti- corrosion protection or in medicinal preparations to treat various skin conditions.

Following table provides some SVHC chemicals commonly present in various plastic products:

S.No. Substance Name EC No. CAS No. Application Areas
1

Benzyl butyl

phthalate (BBP)
201-622-7 85-68-7

Aeroplanes weight over 15

tonnes, Buses, Electric Vehicles, Lorries and transport cars, Mopeds, motorbikes etc, Private cars and station wagons under 3500 kg, Self- propelled railway or tramway coaches, Ships for transport of persons, Yachts and sailboats with motors
2

Bis (2-
ethylhexyl)phthalate

(DEHP)
204-211-0 117-81-7

Aeroplanes weight over 15

tonnes, Buses, Electric Vehicles, Lorries and transport cars, Mopeds, motorbikes etc, Private cars and station wagons under 3500 kg, Self- propelled railway or tramway coaches, Ships for transport of persons, Yachts and sailboats with motors
3 Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) 201-557-4 84-74-2

Aeroplanes weight over 15 tonnes, Buses, Electric Vehicles, Lorries and transport cars, Mopeds, motorbikes etc, Private cars and station wagons under
3500 kg, Self-propelled

railway or tramway coaches, Ships for transport of persons, Yachts and sailboats with motors
4 Lead chromate molybdate sulphate red (C.I. Pigment Red 104) 235-759-9 12656-85-8

Aeroplanes weight over 15 tonnes, Buses, Electric Vehicles, Lorries and transport cars, Mopeds, motorbikes etc, Private cars and station wagons under

3500 kg, Self-propelled railway or tramway coaches, Ships for transport of persons, Yachts and sailboats with motors
5 Lead sulfochromate yellow (C.I. Pigment Yellow 34) 215-693-7 1344-37-2

Aeroplanes weight over 15 tonnes, Buses, Electric Vehicles, Lorries and transport cars, Mopeds, motorbikes etc, Private cars and station wagons under

3500 kg, Self-propelled railway or tramway coaches, Ships for transport of persons, Yachts and sailboats with motors
6 Potassium dichromate 231-906-6 7778-50-9

Clothes & Accessories of Plastic, Doors,

Windows & Their Frames of Plastic, Plates, Films etc of Acrylic Plastic, Self- Adhesive Plastics, Sheets, Films, Foils etc., Tableware & Kitchenware of Plastic
7 Sodium dichromate 234-190-3 10588-01-9

Clothes & Accessories of Plastic, Doors,

Windows & Their Frames of Plastic, Plates, Films etc of Acrylic Plastic, Self- Adhesive Plastics, Sheets, Films, Foils etc., Tableware & Kitchenware of Plastic
8

Tris(2-

chloroethyl)phosphate
204-118-5 115-96-8

Clothes & Accessories of Plastic, Doors,

Windows & Their Frames of Plastic, Plates, Films etc of Acrylic Plastic, Self- Adhesive Plastics, Sheets, Films, Foils etc., Tableware & Kitchenware of Plastic

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