BPS joins BPA on the EU’s Candidate List… who’s next?

Bisphenols have been connected with a wide range of adverse impacts on people and wildlife, including hormone disruption and reproductive toxicity, and are now ubiquitous in our environment. Despite a handful of restrictions, the current slow and ineffective approach to managing harmful chemicals means we could be forced to endure bisphenol pollution for many more years to come. But is change on the horizon?

The problem with bisphenols

Bisphenols are a group of chemicals commonly used in paper tickets and receipts, plastics and metal can linings, but in more recent years, have become recognised for their harmful impacts on people and wildlife (1). Although some attempts have been made to limit bisphenol pollution, the current method of assessing chemicals one-by-one has resulted in slow and ineffective protection. That’s why we’re calling for a group-based restriction on all bisphenols.

Bisphenols have been detected in the bodies of almost every individual ever tested (2) and are linked to numerous health concerns, including breast, prostate and ovarian cancer, obesity, fertility issues, diabetes and neurobehavioral difficulties (3). As a result of their widespread use, bisphenols are also ubiquitous in our environment (4). They have been found in the air and on beaches across the world, and have been shown to interfere with normal hormone function and reproduction of numerous wildlife species, many already vulnerable to increasing environmental stresses (3).

The problem with bisphenol management 

Growing concern around the effects of bisphenols has led to increases in regulation across the globe. This has been most significant for Bisphenol-A (BPA), which has been restricted from various products in countries such as the UK, Canada, China and across the EU (5). Current regulatory systems address every chemical individually. This means that BPA will be researched and regulated separately to other bisphenols, despite them being structurally similar and therefore likely to result in similarly harmful affects. This process allows companies to easily switch one harmful chemical with another following a restriction, referred to as ‘regrettable substitution‘, and is exactly what has occurred following the restrictions of BPA.

In January 2020, BPA was restricted from use in thermal paper, including tickets and receipts, across the EU (3). As a result, another bisphenol, Bisphenol-S (BPS), began to take its place. In fact, an ECHA survey estimated that 61% of all thermal paper would contain BPS as a substitute for BPA, despite concerns of BPS being equally as harmful (6). Fast forward three years and BPS is now recognised as “toxic to reproduction” and a hormone disruptor, and has been added to the EU’s candidate list for Substance of Very High Concern (SVHCs), a common first step on the road to restriction (7).


The solution

Incidences of regrettable substitution have been shown time and again, from bisphenols, to PFAS, to flame retardants, proving that the current substance-by-substance approach to managing chemicals is ineffective. But thankfully, some early signs of change may be on the horizon.

In its UK REACH Work Programme, the UK government listed “bisphenols in thermal paper” as one of its priorities for 2022-23 (8). This means the use of bisphenols in receipts will be reviewed under a Regulatory Management Options Analysis (RMOA). Whilst there is no guarantee that the RMOA will result in restrictions or any other changes in bisphenols use, the wording used suggests bisphenols may be considered as a group. Another encouraging sign comes from Germany, who recently published a restriction dossier proposing to restrict BPA as well as any other “bisphenols and bisphenol derivatives with endocrine disrupting properties” from a wide range of products (9). The proposal highlights a crackdown on more uses of bisphenols. Whilst further strengthening is needed to ensure restrictions cover the full bisphenols groups, the proposal demonstrates a positive shift towards a more holistic and forward-thinking approach to chemical management by opening restrictions to more than one substance at a time.

Stay updated

We’ll be keeping a close eye on all bisphenol developments and will be continuing to call for robust chemical management with people and planet at its heart. To stay up to date, make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. For news on bisphenols and our other projects, you can also join our mailing list.



  1. Fidra. Bisphenols and Endocrine Disruptors. fidra.org.uk. [Online] 2023. https://www.fidra.org.uk/bisphenols/.
  2. Concentration of bisphenol A in thermal paper. Mendum, T., Stoler, E., VanBenschoten, H. and Warner, J.C. s.l. : Green Chemistry Letters and Reviews, 2011.
  3. Fidra . Towards safe use and recycling of receipts: case for groupbased restriction on bisphenols in thermal paper. fidra.org.uk. [Online] 2022. https://www.fidra.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/UK-Gov-Bisphenols-Briefing-MAR22.pdf.
  4. Occurrence of bisphenol S in the environment and implications for human exposure: A short review. . Wu, L.H., Zhang, X.M., Wang, F., Gao, C.J., Chen, D., Palumbo, J.R., Guo, Y. and Zeng, E.Y. s.l. : Science of the Total Environment, 2018.
  5. CHEMTrust. From BPA to BPZ: a toxic soup? CHEMTrust. [Online] 2018. https://www.chemtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/chemtrust-toxicsoup-mar-18.pdf.
  6. European Chemicals Agency . Bisphenol S has replaced bisphenol A in thermal paper. ECHA. [Online] 2020. https://echa.europa.eu/-/bisphenol-s-has-replaced-bisphenol-a-in-thermal-paper.
  7. —. ECHA adds nine hazardous chemicals to Candidate List. ECHA . [Online] 2023. https://echa.europa.eu/-/echa-adds-nine-hazardous-chemicals-to-candidate-list.
  8. Health and Safety Executive. The Agency for UK REACH Work Programme 2022/23. HSE. [Online] 2022. https://www.hse.gov.uk/reach/resources/work-programme-2022-23.pdf.
  9. European Chemicals Agency . Registry of restriction intentions until outcome – Bisphenols with endocrine disrupting properties for the environment and their salts. ECHA. [Online] 2022. https://echa.europa.eu/registry-of-restriction-intentions/-/dislist/details/0b0236e1853413ea.