Article originally published in EuroWatch on August 15, 2011

The Council of the European Union has adopted a position at First Reading on a proposal for a Regulation on Biocidal Products that would impose new requirements on goods treated with biocidal products (“Council First Reading”).1 The new rules would apply to a wide variety of consumer goods, such as furniture and other wood products, packaging, electronic equipment, plastic materials, paper and tissue products, absorbent hygiene products, apparel, paints, and kitchen accessories, and are likely to have a significant impact on goods imported into the European Union or European Economic Area.

The Council First Reading would significantly change the EU regulatory framework for materials (i.e., articles, mixtures, and substances) treated with or incorporating biocidal products. On the one hand, the new rules would limit the scope of the strict requirements that apply to biocidal products to only those materials that have a primary biocidal purpose. On the other hand, however, they would also create a new category of rules for all materials that intentionally incorporate or have been treated with biocidal products (so-called “treated articles”) even if such materials do not have a primary biocidal purpose.

These new rules would facilitate the making of biocidal claims for materials that are not themselves biocidal products, while also imposing approval and disclosure requirements on the active biocidal substances used even if they are only intended to preserve the materials or their ingredients and no biocidal claims are made. Importantly, the approval requirements may also significantly limit the number of suppliers from whom producers of these materials may purchase biocidal substances.

While the European Parliament and Council may still amend the Council First Reading and eventually could even fail to adopt the Regulation, this seems unlikely, and the Council First Reading’s requirements could apply in substantially their current or even stricter form as of January 2013.

This article briefly reviews the scope of “treated articles” and the requirements that will apply to them under the Council First Reading, and makes some recommendations for producers marketing or intending to market goods treated with active biocidal substances in the EU/EEA.

Read the complete article here