EU Calls for Accelerated Chemical Substitution for Hazardous Substances
A report commissioned by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has found that the health and safety agencies of most EU member states do not allocate sufficient resources to effectively promote chemical substitution for substances of very high concern (SVHCs). Among the problems that hamper substitution efforts, according to the report, are the failure of feasibility analyses to fully account for the costs of substitution, a lack of consistency in the review of hazard endpoints, and insufficient consideration of a range of alternatives for specific chemical functions.
The report notes that while chemical substitution is a main goal of the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation, regulations alone are likely insufficient to ensure that smaller businesses are using chemical substitution effectively.
The extensive knowledge required for chemical substitution poses challenges for industry as well as government, the report says. In many cases, government agencies lack the engineering ability to evaluate the feasibility of substitution, while industry requires extensive resources to conduct needed research. Other challenges for industry include a lack of technical support and the difficulties of making relevant information available throughout supply chains.
To enhance the capacity of EU member states, the report recommends increased collaboration between government and industry, including development of resources to help evaluate alternatives using data gathered under REACH.
The report is available as a PDF.