Toxic chemicals at Trelleborg’s hose production facility at Clermont Ferrand, France, have been entirely phased out. Other potentially hazardous chemicals are being continuously replaced and are not used at all in new products.
Robert Colley is the material technology manager at Trelleborg’s production site in Clermont Ferrand. He leads a team of ten people who work on a day-to-day basis with the chemistry of substances used for producing hoses for industrial use. He is a chemist and feels very strongly about creating a healthier environment. Many hazardous substances can be eliminated and those remaining can be used in much safer ways.
“We are surrounded by chemistry. Chemicals are not dangerous by definition. Much is down to how they are used, in what context and how to avoid potentially hazardous consequences. Even water can be toxic if treated incorrectly,” he explains.
An on-site laboratory enables the team to test all the some 300 substances used to make hoses according to quality and environmental specifications. Nothing highly toxic or otherwise hazardous to people or the environment should be leaked. The principle risk is exposure during production, but this is ultimately avoided by deploying effective safety measures and protection.
“There are not so many potential risks for the end-user of our products. Only relatively small quantities of chemicals are usually used and these are embedded in the rubber matrix. However, we also examine whether the substances migrate or evaporate under certain circumstances,” Robert Colley continues.
Trelleborg complies with the European Community regulation on chemicals, REACH, and goes beyond that required by law. REACH issues a list of chemicals of Very High Concern twice as year. Referred to as CMR (Carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic) chemicals, these are particularly toxic to humans and are also hazardous for the environment. These have been entirely eliminated from hose production at Clermont Ferrand since 2010. A total of more than 100 rubber compound recipes have been modified since a dedicated project in this field began five years ago.
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