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Recycling contaminates plastic children’s toys with toxic chemicals from electronic waste

A new global survey finds that recycling plastics containing toxic flame retardant chemicals found in electronic waste results in contamination of the world’s best-selling toy: The Rubik’s Cube.

20.04.2017 |




WECF public toys test in the centre of Utrecht, November 2011

A new global survey finds that recycling plastics containing toxic flame retardant chemicals found in electronic waste results in contamination of the world’s best-selling toy: The Rubik’s Cube.

The study was performed by IPEN (a global civil society network) and Arnika (an environmental organization in the Czech Republic), and the toxic chemicals are OctaBDE, DecaBDE, and HBCD and are used in the plastic casings of electronic products. The survey of products from 26 countries, including Netherlands, found that 90% of the samples contained OctaBDE or DecaBDE.

In the Netherlands, Arnika purchased several rubik’s toy samples and brought them for analysis in the Czech Republic. Two car toys were chosen for laboratory tests. The analysis found that both samples contained OctaBDE and DecaBDE at elevated concentrations. “Toxic chemicals in electronic waste should not be present in children’s toys,” according to IPEN-member WECF International. “This problem needs to be addressed globally and nationally.”

The study emerges days before the global Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention will decide whether to continue allowing the recycling of materials containing OctaBDE and possibly make a new recycling exemption for DecaBDE. Another critical decision of the Stockholm Convention Conference will be to establish hazardous waste limits.

“We need protective hazardous waste limits,” said Jitka Strakova, Arnika. “Weak standards mean toxic products and dirty recycling, which often takes place in low and middle income countries and spreads poisons from recycling sites into our homes and bodies.” Both Arnika and WECF are active participation organizations of IPEN. www.ipen.org  twitter: @ToxicsFree

A Dutch press release has been issued by WECF the Netherlands underlining the Dutch outcomes.

The full report (in English) can be found here


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