Brominated flame retardants in Irish waste polymers: Concentrations, legislative compliance, and treatment options

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

External organisations

  • National University of Ireland Galway
  • Assiut University


A comprehensive survey was performed to construct an inventory of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) associated with waste polymers in Ireland. Based on our data, ~2200 t/yr of waste generated in Ireland exceeds “Low POP Concentration Limits” (LPCLs) set by the European Commission, of 1000 mg/kg of PBDEs (BDE-209 excluded) and HBCDD – collectively referred to as POP-BFRs. Waste articles containing concentrations exceeding the LPCL values require special treatment to remove POP-BFRs before they can be recycled. Waste articles exceeding LPCLs in our study consist primarily of expanded polystyrene used as building insulation (44%), waste furniture foams and fabrics (41%), with waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) accounting for 13% and end of life vehicle waste contributing 1.7%. The recent listing of Deca-BDE under the Stockholm Convention means that a similar LPCL for its principal congener (BDE-209) is likely. Our data show that enforcement of an LPCL of 1000 mg/kg for BDE-209 would result in a further 1650 t/year of waste articles requiring special treatment. Our data show there to be 17,125 kg of POP-BFRs associated with waste polymers generated annually in Ireland. Enforcement of current LPCL values would prevent approximately 98% of these POP-BFRs from entering recycled goods. Introduction and enforcement of a similar LPCL for BDE-209 would prevent 93% of the 15,518 kg/yr of BDE-209 associated with Irish waste polymers from entering the recycling stream.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1535-1543
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date12 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • BFRs, HBCDD, LPCLs, PBDEs, Plastic, Recycling