Ban on chrome starts on September 21st 2024

The Council for Aluminium in Building (CAB) has published a useful update on the banning of chrome which hopefully brings to an end the long-drawn-out saga in the UK.

Unfortunately, the bad news is that chrome-based pre-treatments are still permitted in the European Community which could be imported into the UK.

Despite many years of experience, evidence and general agreement it is unfortunate that Europe still does not accept that the performance of chrome has been matched and has conveniently forgotten that despite this evidence one of the reasons for banning chrome is the damage that it does to the environment in extraction, use and disposal plus the undisputed harm to human and animal health with whom we share the planet.

We of course welcome the ban and urge caution when specifying pre-treatment to ensure that the environmental credentials of the finish are not ignored by the use of harmful chemicals when genuine alternatives exist.


Chromate pre-treatments for powder coating

In February 2022, following extensive consultation with CAB members, we set out our Position Paper on pre-treatments for powder coating on architectural aluminium with a focus on the use of chromium-free pre-treatments, given that following Brexit the “sunset date” for the use of chromium trioxide, for example, was 21 September 2024 under UK REACH, as this had been the position of EU REACH at that time and so grandfathered into UK law.

In a recent QUALICOAT announcement, it was clarified that, following submissions by a consortium of seven Authorisation Holders, the European Court recently annulled their termination of the use of chromates. This annulment means that effectively the law never existed, so chromates can continue to be used as a pre-treatment in the European Union (EU), pending any further EU legislation being put forward.

Since Brexit, the UK no longer recognises EU law, therefore the termination date for the cessation of use of chromate remains 21 September 2024 in the UK, irrespective of any developments within the EU after Brexit on 31 January 2020. This position has subsequently been confirmed by the UK’s HSE.

Hence while potentially chromate pre-treatments now cannot be used in the UK, we understand that chromate pre-treated aluminium that has been powder coated in the European Union can be imported into the UK.

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