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Imported tilebacker boards found to contain banned substances

A range of Chinese manufactured tilebacker boards and wetroom shower trays are under investigation by the Environment Agency after it was found that they have been manufactured using banned substances.
The products look similar to the leading WEDI, JACKOBOARD and MARMOX ranges. Constructed with a core of extruded polystyrene (XPS) and a polymer modified glass fibre reinforced cementitious coating, they are currently being sold around the UK by a number of distributors to unsuspecting retailers and tradesmen.

Peter Kindness, managing director of Wedi UK said “I am sure that reputable retailers will not be attracted to these questionable materials, but products containing banned substances have no place in our marketplace”

When extruded polystyrene is manufactured molten beads of polystyrene are extruded through a heated cylinder and various dyes and fire retardants are added. To create the honeycomb bubbles in the extruded material a gas or blowing agent is injected into the molten polymer to produce the finished material.

Tests indicate that two European Banned Substances are incorporated in the imported products.

The blowing agent used is a HCFC, an ozone depleting aerosol type gas, which is banned from the EU. Most reputable manufacturers of XPS have made major investments to modify their extrusion equipment so that their products comply with the EU legislation and now use CO² as their blowing agent which is known to have a minimal effect on the environment but increases processing costs.

The Chinese XPS also utilises a banned fire retardant, HBCD, which has recently been banned due to its high toxicity.

“Whilst we all accept that competition is normal part of the marketplace it is unacceptable for products containing banned substances should be dumped into the UK market. I am sure that the authorities will be taking appropriate action” said Colin Higham, managing director of TileBacker Limited, the UK distributor of the JACKOBOARD brand.

The Environment Agency has contacted the manufacturers and some of the distributors of these materials.

Sarah Viney, managing director of Marmox UK added, “Whilst this matter is being investigated, I would advise retailers to ask their suppliers for the manufacturers test data before they are seduced by the cheapest price.”

If the Environment Agency find evidence of none compliance towards either the Ozone Depleting Substance or the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations, their legal teams will take appropriate actions to ensure compliance.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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