FACE Briefing – Current Situation with Lead Ammunition in Europe


Lead ammunition: Policy updates

I. New EU restriction on the use of lead in shot over wetlands

Following a request from the European Commission (EC), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) launched a public consultation on its proposed restriction on the use of lead shot over wetlands in June 2017. FACE identified key issues with ECHA’s approach including the very broad definition of a wetland, a proposed restriction on the possession of lead shot and a short phase out period for countries with no restrictions in place. FACE made two submissions to the online consultation and encouraged all FACE members to respond. FACE also participated at the meetings of the ECHA Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) and ECHA Risk Assessment Committee (RAC). The public final consultation, which FACE also responded to, closed on 21 May 2018. While some issues are clarified, ECHA proses to keep a very broad definition of a wetland (i.e. Ramsar) to include peatlands. For FACE, this approach is disproportionate and will make the regulation unclear to both hunters and enforcement officers. Importantly, it could result in the phase out of lead shot for most hunting/shooting in the Nordic countries, UK and Ireland due to the high prevalence of peatlands.

Next steps:

When ECHA submits its final opinion to the EC, the EC will have three months to deal with it, including getting it through the EU REACH Committee. During this time, it will formulate a draft proposal for an amendment to the list of restrictions in the REACH regulation. This draft proposal will be sent to the EU REACH Committee at which Member States will each have a representative. This committee will discuss the proposal and then vote on its opinion regarding the amendment. For any legislative changes to be made, the committee would need to have a qualified majority giving a favourable opinion. The European Parliament will also be consulted during the process. FACE will be following the next steps carefully.

II. Lead as a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC)

Sweden (via the Swedish Chemicals Agency) has proposed all lead metal as a substance to be identified as a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC). In June 2018, ECHA’s Member State Committee agreed to identify lead as an SVHC, with the formal addition of the substance to the Candidate List on 27 June 2018. This listing is not surprising to FACE as approximately 95% of substances make the Candidate List. Further, the harmonised EU classification of lead as a Category 1A reproductive toxicant* facilitated the decision for inclusion of lead as an SVHC.


Candidate Listing means that EU and EEA suppliers of articles containing more than 0.1% by weight of lead must provide information to the recipients which allows for safe use. As a minimum, the supplier must inform the recipient of the presence of lead above the 0.1% threshold. The information must be provided in writing and free of charge. If the recipient of the article is a consumer, the information must be provided reactively within 45 days of a request. For those EU and EEA companies producing or importing articles, they have to notify ECHA within 6 months of the substance being included in the Candidate List. For the movement, we understand that this listing will not have consequences for hunters.

Next steps:

ECHA regularly assesses the substances on the Candidate List to determine which ones should be included in the Authorisation List as a priority. If lead metal makes the Authorisation List, it would result in a regulatory move towards non-lead ammunition where alternatives exist. We understand that about 25-30% of substances make the Authorisation List. In line with ECHA’s procedures, prioritisation for the Authorisation List is based on information on the: i) intrinsic properties, and ii) wide dispersive use or high volumes that fall within the scope of the authorisation requirement. The process would include a 90 day public consultation. During the public consultation, there is also a parallel call for information by the EC on the possible socio-economic consequences of the inclusion of the substances in the Authorisation List. The main steps are: i) closing of the public consultation on the inclusion of lead as an SVHC on 23 April 2018 (see all responses here); ii) possible inclusion in the Authorisation list by 2021; iii) worst-case scenario for transition to other substances by 2024. FACE will be following the process carefully.

III. Plastic litter from shotgun ammunition on Danish coastlines

A new study from Denmark concludes that “Litter from hunting ammunition is a significant source of plastic pollution in nature, and in some Danish coastal areas one of the most common single types of macro pollution”. In response, the Danish Hunters Association and the association of Danish Gunmakers and firearms and ammunition retailers, are working towards a phase out of plastic wads in shotgun ammunition.

IV. DIN SPEC (killing effect of rifle bullets), Germany:

FACE is following the German DIN (German Institute for Standardisation) SPEC on the killing effect of rifle bullets and on metal contamination of game meat. Part 1 of this DIN SPEC is intended to specify requirements for a procedure for determining the range of applications for the killing effect of hunting rifle bullets. Part 2 of this DIN SPEC is intended to lay down requirements for a procedure for the determination of metal releases from different bullet types for making comparative scenarios for the food and environmental sectors. FACE is following the process carefully.

V. FACE Ammunition Working Group

The FACE Ammunition Working Group meets twice per year to discuss important policy developments related to ammunition. An example of a recent initiative from the working group includes the development of a new FACE website “Guidance on Managing Risks from Lead Ammunition”: www.leadammunitionguidance.com The purpose of this FACE website is to show European hunters that (and how) the risks from lead ammunition can be managed.


Contact person:

Dr. David Scallan, david.scallan@face.eu +32 (0)2-4161614 and +353 87-9504563


*Classification in accordance with section 3.7 of Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008.

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