Parliament objects to lead in PVC to protect public health and the environment

  • Need to eliminate lead in PVC products, with no derogations for recycled PVC
  • Commission’s proposal not compatible with REACH regulation

MEPs have vetoed a Commission proposal that would have allowed some lead in recycled PVC.

The Commission has proposed to amend the rules concerning lead concentration in PVC. As a general rule, 0,1 % lead would have been tolerated in PVC, but higher thresholds would have been allowed for recycled PVC (2 % in rigid PVC and 1 % in flexible/soft PVC).

With 394 votes for, 241 votes against and 13 abstentions, MEPs on Wednesday rejected the Commission’s proposal.

MEPs believe the proposal goes against the main principle of the REACH regulation, which is to protect human health and the environment. They recall that lead is a toxic substance that can seriously affect health, including irreversible neurological damage, even in low doses. They believe that the levels proposed by the Commission do not correspond to “safe levels” and underline that alternatives are available.

Next steps

The Parliament’s objection means that the draft measure shall not be adopted by the Commission. The Commission may either submit an amended draft or present a new one.


Parliament has long held the position that recycling PVC must not perpetuate the problem of heavy metals. European producers began to phase out lead in PVC in 2015, due to the EU PVC industry’s voluntary commitment, some lead is still present in imported PVC.