For the purposes of the October report regarding the European carpets market, samples were selected from several large European carpets suppliers. It is reported that a number of chemical groups were found in the carpet samples, including phthalates, flame retardants and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), as well as indications of antimicrobials, isocyanates, nonylphenol and bisphenol A (BPA).
Two carpets manufactured by a producer with factories in France, the UK and Belgium, tested positive for tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP), a chlorinated flame retardant considered as a suspected carcinogen by the EU’s regulatory body for chemicals, the European Chemicals Agency. They also both contained the chlorinated flame retardant Tris (chloroisopropyl) phosphate (TCPP).
The study notes that both flame retardants allegedly pose potential health risk to babies and small children. While these substances are restricted in children’s toys through the Toy Safety Directive, this limit does not apply to carpets.
Particularly alarming, according to the report, has been the detection of the phthalate DEHP in one of the carpets tested. Its use is said to be authorised in recycled Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for carpets until 2019. Commonly used as a plasticiser for PVC carpet binders or backing, it is classified by the EU as toxic for reproduction and endocrine-disrupting for human health and the environment.
The report, published in October 2018, as well as the report on toxic toys seem to suggest that despite the fact that some toxic substances are banned or restricted at EU level, they make their way into certain products through “the back door” as it were, namely, through recycling exemptions foreseen by EU legislation.
In light of the discrepancies revealed in the EU legislation on chemicals, products and waste, the report has called on lawmakers to adopt certain recommendations for a change in the overall policy.
The joint statement of 5 December 2018 reiterates the findings of the October report and suggests the introduction of a “green carpet mark”, to ensure that carpets do not pose a health risk and are collected, reused and fully recycled.
It further underlines that current carpet recycling rates across Europe average only 3%. Unlike the packaging industry, which is subject to extended producer responsibility schemes, carpet manufacturers presently have no financial incentive to recycle.
However, with European elections and a new European Commission taking office next year, it is unlikely that new EU legislation will be proposed within the next two years.