Together with its members, the Euro Chlor team is investigating the use of fluorinated materials, along with their potential alternatives and waste management, to contribute to Europe’s action on PFAS.
SCIENCE AND REGULATORY AFFAIRS DIRECTOR
Euro Chlor digs deeper into the PFAS restriction
In 2021, following societal concerns that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) persist in the environment and/or may have negative health impacts, Euro Chlor set up a PFAS Working Group as part of its General Technical Committee (GTC). This group has identified that fluorine-containing substances (that meet the EU definition of a PFAS) may be present in a range of key materials that are used in the production of chlor-alkali. These include materials used in membranes, diaphragms, greases, filter packing materials (etc.). Building on this, and to investigate if the use of such materials is leading to trace level environmental emissions, Euro Chlor is working with a laboratory to enable its membership to collect information on the presence of any ‘PFAS’ in the incoming raw materials, outgoing wastewater streams and some key liquid products.
In early February 2023, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) released the draft restriction proposal for PFAS and launched a six-month public consultation to obtain more data on these substances. To support this, Cefic has launched a broader assessment of the industrial use of PFAS across the entire chemical industry. Without a derogation, the use of fluorinated substances in chemical industry equipment could be banned 18 months after the restriction enters into force. This has added new impetus to work on emission monitoring and alternatives’ assessment by the GTC with support from the newly named Advocacy and Regulatory Affairs Committee (ARAC).
Euro Chlor is now considering how best to inform the consultation and the GTC is preparing a report that could be used as input on the use of PFAS in our production installations. This report includes the options for alternative PFAS materials, the end-of-life solutions for them and socio-economic data on our industry.
Alongside this, meetings have been held with downstream user and sister organisations to discuss the common challenges faced. Meetings have also been held with international membrane suppliers to learn about responsible manufacture, and our role in the correct use and end-of-life of PFAS-containing materials. The results of these discussions are helping to inform Euro Chlor’s investigations into PFAS.
Euro Chlor members approaching end of mercury conversion
Following the phase-out of mercury technology by the end of 2017, any remaining liquid mercury should have been converted to mercury sulfide and stored in a salt mine by 31 December 2022. On that date, approximately 80 tonnes (of the ± 4,500 tonnes in 2014) of liquid mercury was still present on the sites*.
Note: Mercury for alcoholate production is not included in these figures.
Waste from the production process
From our third Sustainability Programme, we report on the amount of waste generated by members. The amount of hazardous waste increased in 2022 from 1.5 kg per tonne of chlorine to 2.2 kg. Non-hazardous waste increased from 2.4 kg per tonne of chlorine to 3.0 kg per tonne of chlorine.