Denmark defies EU opposition to ban lead

Government claims world first in move also affecting cadmium, mercury, nickel

Denmark today announced that it is to become the first country in the world to impose a wide-ranging ban on the heavy metal lead, in defiance of opposition from a majority of EU member states and a negative opinion from the European Commission's chief scientific committee (ENDS Daily 7 June).

Environment minister Svend Auken also claimed a world first in that the restrictions will apply also to cadmium, mercury and nickel, "in line with our declared goal of limiting the use of heavy metals as much as possible".

His statement continued: "Lead is found in so many products... that forbidding its use in individual [ones] is not sufficient." Products affected are to include those containing lead compounds, such as plastic stabilisers, as well as metallic lead.

The ban is take effect for many products from March; but "others will come into force over several years, given that alternatives are still undergoing trials or are at the development stage".

Mr Auken concluded that the lead ban "makes Denmark a pioneering country. And the Danish wish to regulate lead has had significant policy implications from Day One, as shown by the work of the EU Commission with a PVC 'green paper' and a proposed directive to phase out lead in electrical and electronic equipment".

Annual consumption of lead in Denmark is about 18,000 tonnes, according to the ministry. The 9,000 tonnes used in lead accumulators are already collected for recycling; the new measure will reduce the total by a further 5,000 tonnes.

Follow Up:
Danish EPA, tel: +45 32 66 01 00, and press release.

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