General PFAS ban endangers the climate goals of the European Green Deal
Without PFAS, the energy and mobility transition threatens to come to a full stop — VDA, VDMA and ZVEI call for differentiated consideration of the PFAS group
No wind turbine, no energy storage, no electric car, no semiconductors. Without perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), the key technologies of the transformation to climate neutrality cannot be produced and thus the energy and mobility transition cannot be implemented, warn the three major German industry associations VDA, VDMA and ZVEI. Together, they oppose the EU's currently planned general ban on PFAS and call for a differentiated view of the chemical group with over 10,000 substances. They demand: Substances for which there is currently no substitute and those that do not pose a risk to humans or the environment should be available to industry further on. Disproportionate bans must not be imposed. PFAS that pose a risk to humans and the environment, on the other hand, should be continuously substituted, as is already common practice today.
For the sectors represented by the associations - the automotive industry (VDA), the electrical and digital industry (ZVEI) and mechanical and plant engineering (VDMA) - many PFAS from the substance group are currently indispensable. The substances are used extensively in cross-sectional technologies, for example as seals and cables, and are used in all relevant key technologies that will play a decisive role in determining the success of the Green Deal. Lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen technologies are also urgently dependent on PFAS.
VDA President Hildegard Müller: "Electromobility is the central technology on the road to climate-neutral mobility of the future and a central part of the EU's European Green Deal. One thing is clear: in order to achieve the goal of climate-neutral mobility, the use of PFAS is and will remain indispensable. Without them, neither existing vehicles nor future vehicle technologies are conceivable today - the planned blanket ban on PFAS threatens to become a climate protection boomerang. With a differentiated view of this huge group of substances, however, climate, environmental and health protection can be brought together. One thing is certain: the companies in the German automotive industry take the responsible handling of PFAS seriously and will of course continue to do so in the future."
VDMA President Karl Haeusgen: "Climate protection and the energy transition are not possible without technologies from the mechanical and plant engineering sector. A comprehensive PFAS ban endangers many green technologies, from wind turbines to hydrogen generation and the production of fuel cells. Components made of PFAS are indispensable for these products and also for their industrial manufacturing processes. At the same time, PFASs are built deep inside machines and have no direct contact with the environment."
ZVEI President Dr Gunther Kegel: "Semiconductors are indispensable for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. This is one of the reasons why the EU is rightly promoting the development of a high-performance semiconductor ecosystem with the EU Chips Act and the IPCEI Microelectronics. A general ban of PFAS would be opposed to this goal. To resolve this conflict of objectives, PFASs must be considered in a differentiated and risk-based manner, not with a generalized sledgehammer approach.“
A presentation with interactive graphics and lots of background information clearly shows how green technologies would be affected by a comprehensive PFAS ban. You can find it in the appendix, as well as on the websites of the three associations.
Note: Clicking on the magnifying glasses on the graphic will take you to the respective information pages of the presentation. You may have to use the presentation mode (F5 key).
VDA, VDMA and ZVEI represent the interests of their industries at national and international level. Together, more than 5,300 companies are organised in the associations. The industries employ around 2.7 million workers in Germany. In 2022, the aggregated turnover was around 975 billion euros.