Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD/ HBCD)
Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) is a material that was used in construction in the 1970’s. It is a highly toxic substance and now new guidelines have been issued on how to deal with it.
What is Hexabromocyclododecane?
Hexabromocyclododecane, or HBCD, is a brominated flame retardant that was commonly used in the 1970’s in expanded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS). HBCD is highly toxic and as such can no longer be sent to landfill or recycled.
Until recently HBCD was allowed to be sent to landfill or be recycled, however, new rules brought in last year state that the material cannot be sent to landfill or recycled and can only be incinerated.
Thankfully, HBCD is no longer used in the construction of new homes but we are still likely to see it cropping up in construction and demolition waste for the next 50 years.
How to Identify HBCD
HBCD was commonly attached to other products, rather than a standalone material itself. As such it can be difficult to identify. The Environment Agency’s guidelines say:
Polystyrene boards and blocks containing HBCD may be bound to other products to form a composite or panel system and may include a vapour barrier foil or an architectural face e.g. vinyl. Testing of all rigid insulation boards and blocks may be necessary for the future to determine which ones contain HBCD. Where the proper assessment of EPS/XPS construction materials does not rule out the presence of HBCD it should be assumed that HBCD is present and that the material should be destroyed in accordance with the Persistent Organic Pollutants Regulations 2007.
For more details on how to identify HBCD, view the Guidance for the inventory, identification and substitution of Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) from the Stockholm Convention.
How to deal with HBCD
Any waste containing HBCD should be properly identified so that it can be disposed of safely. The best way to deal with HBCD, or waste you suspect to contain HBCD, is to segregate it from waste that does not contain HBCD as early as possible.
As of September 2016 any waste which contains more than 1000 mg/kg of HBCD can only be incinerated.
If you have any questions or concerns about HBCD, please call us or email [email protected].
Guidance for the inventory, identification and substitution of Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD): http://chm.pops.int/Implementation/NationalImplementationPlans/Guidance/GuidanceforHBCD/tabid/5332/Default.aspx
Using persistent organic pollutants (POPs): https://www.gov.uk/guidance/using-persistent-organic-pollutants-pops#hbcd-additional-exceptions-to-the-ban