|Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have seen many stories about how production lines were adapted to making personal protective equipment from polyurethanes. We’re proud of the role that the industry can play in supporting those in society who are most at risk.
As many countries across Europe slowly emerge from lockdown, the major question will be the economic recovery. In this context of the EU’s recovery plans, it is positive that the European Commission clearly acknowledges the chemicals industry as a strategic sector. At the same time, initiatives like the Renovation Wave could provide new growth opportunities.
However, the success of any of these initiatives depends on keeping the pandemic under control.
So, please stay safe and take care.
– Jörg Palmersheim
REACH Restriction on Diisocyanates still to be published in EU Official Journal
The EU adoption of the Restriction on diisocyanates under the REACH Regulation is in its final stages after a clerical error has caused some delay. The Restriction introduces new minimum training requirements for workers handling diisocyanates and mixtures containing diisocyanates.
After the start of the three months scrutiny period by the European Parliament and the Council of the amendment to the REACH Regulation, an error was discovered in the legal text with regards to the labelling requirement in point (b) of paragraph2 of the Annex. The previous wording seemed to indicate that only industrial and professional uses of diisocyanates are allowed.
It was originally indicated that a re-vote might take place in the REACH Committee, but the European Commission instead sent a letter to the Member States and the European Parliament explaining that a linguistic change would be made. The revised draft amendment (annex) including the change was sent to the Council and the European Parliament on 25 May 2020.
As no concerns have been raised in either the European Parliament or the Council of the EU, the next step is the formal adoption by the European Commission and the subsequent publication of the amendment to the REACH Regulation in the EU Official Journal.
Given the delays, it is expected that the publication of the amendment could be delay to early September 2020.
EU Green Recovery and Renovation Wave could provide new opportunities for the diisocyanates value-chain
The European Commission presented on 27 May the Recovery Plan for Europe, Next Generation EU, to support the EU’s economic recovery after the Covid-19 crisis.
The plan sets out the way forward for establishing and financing a €750 billion recovery instrument which will be used to support Member States, companies and for doubling the capacity of InvestEU.
The European Commission have followed the calls for a ‘Green Recovery’ by asserting that the European Green Deal will be the EU’s Growth Strategy and all public investments in the recovery should respect the green oath to “do no harm”.
In this respect, the upcoming Renovation Wave is a flagship initiative which together with the reinforced sustainable infrastructure window in InvestEU, aims to at least double the annual renovation rate of existing building stock.
The renovation wave is a part of the drive to achieve a more sustainable built environment which is seen as essential for Europe’s transition towards climate-neutrality. New measures are also expected to address the sustainability of construction products and improve the energy efficiency and environmental performance of built assets in line with circular economy principles.
All these developments could impact the diisocyanates value-chain. The renovation wave could drive demand for polyurethane construction materials, like insultation, with the focus on improving energy efficiency of buildings. At the same time, the circular economy in combination with the chemicals strategy for sustainability could entail new requirements for products both upstream and downstream.
It will be key to strike the right balance to ensure that the industry can provide the solutions to support the green recovery in Europe.
ISOPA co-signs letter drafted by CEFIC calling on the Commission not to re-open REACH
The European Chemical Industry Council has drafted a letter, co-signed by ISOPA, to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, regarding the possibility of the re-opening of REACH under the Chemicals strategy for sustainability.
The letter emphasises, that while the industry stands in support of the European Green Deal, Europe has the most comprehensive regulatory framework for chemicals in the world, as the Commission itself recognises. REACH, at the core of the system should be an anchor in the current uncertain environment, to ensure Europe’s strategic autonomy.
The signatories recognise, that the current Regulation is complex but after years of development and billions of investments in making REACH work, they call for regulatory predictability to be able to invest in a greener future.
Instead of a messy re-opening of the Regulation, the organisations suggest creating a multi-stakeholder forum to facilitate structured dialogue, which has been proven to work with great success in the past.
In the media: Innovation in the face of the Covid-19 Pandemic
· Media coverage has been focused on the Covid-19 crisis to a great extent and there were many stories about uses of polyurethanes in personal protective equipment, for medical personnel and more. For instance, Nike remodelled its production chain to manufacture face shields and Viessman created a mobile airtight treatment unit for Covid-19 patients, using polyurethane materials.
· Smart and electric mobility is of growing importance, especially in crowded cities, so the Poimo, an inflatable e-bike, is a very promising solution. The bike can be carried in a backpack and is made of polyurethane, making it highly flexible when folded and providing secure shape when inflated.
· Researchers at Northwestern University developed low-cost polyurethane sponges to soak up oil in water. This technology would be especially useful to limit the environmental and biodiversity effects in the event of oil spills.
ISOPA continues activity online
As Belgium and the rest of Europe went into lockdown, ISOPA like most others took steps by moving our meetings to digital format and minimising travel until further notice. These policies remain in place and ISOPA will keep stakeholders informed on changes to these policies.
Polyurethanes.org to be relaunched
ISOPA is finalising the relaunch of polyurethanes.org to give the website an updated design to better present the solutions and benefits that polyurethanes bring to society. The website will be updated regularly with new information and stories about polyurethanes.
ISOPA updating E-book and website on REACH Restriction
To successfully implement the Restriction, the first step is the development of high-quality training materials. ISOPA and ALIPA will be presenting the e-book ‘A guide to the Restriction applying to diisocyanates’ this summer, along with an update of the Safe Use of Diisocyanates website.
Product Stewardship activities
The guidelines for safe loading/unloading, transportation and storage of TDI/MDI in bulk have been translated in FR/DE/ES/NL.
An updates slide pack is now available as part of the driver training program.
Study on PU waste management
Conversio, a consultancy based in Germany, has conducted a study “PU Waste Generation and Waste Management in Europe – Volumes, Waste Streams, Actors along the Value Chain and Conditions”. This is the first study of this kind and is available from ISOPA against a license fee.
New ISOPA socio-economic study
ISOPA socio-economic study on jobs, enterprises and value creation in the European polyurethane industry also now available on request.