The SIN List puts pressure on legislators to move forward with speed and urgency. It provides progressive companies with a helpful list of hazardous chemicals to avoid as they aim for a sustainable future. It also challenges chemical companies to revise their portfolio.
Based on EU REACH criteria
In 2007 the EU chemicals regulation REACH entered into force. Within REACH the most hazardous chemicals are defined as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) and subsequently placed on the Candidate List. EU member states have decided that the use of these substances should be strictly limited. However the process of actually regulating specific chemicals within the scope of REACH has up until now been far too slow. The SIN List is all about adding some speed to this process.
The SIN List consists of chemicals that have been identified by ChemSec as being SVHCs, based on the criteria for these defined within REACH.
In addition to speeding up the REACH process, the SIN List aims to offer a glimpse into the possible future of EU chemicals regulation. By doing so, it is a concrete tool for companies and others to identify which chemicals to start moving away from.
Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC)
The criteria for a SVHC are described in REACH article 57. Three categories are included there, and also the SIN List encompasses substances from these three categories.
1. The first category is chemicals that can cause cancer, alter DNA or damage reproductive systems. These are called CMR substances (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or Toxic to reproduction.)
2. Then there are harmful substances that do not easily break down and accumulate in the food chain. These are known as PBT substances (short for Persistent, Bio-accumulative and Toxic). There is also the abbreviation vPvB, short for very Persistent and very Bio-accumulative.
3. The third category is called “substances of equivalent concern”. This category covers substances that are not automatically covered by the other two categories, but which nonetheless give rise to equivalent level of concern in terms of potential damage to health and environment. This category e.g. includes endocrine disrupting chemicals.
SIN List groups
The substances on the SIN List are grouped according to structural similarity, to make the list as user-friendly as possible. Almost all of the SIN List substances are divided into 31 groups, and some SIN chemicals belongs to several groups. Examples of these groups are bisphenols, phthalates and perfluorinated compounds.
A multi-stakeholder project
The SIN List is developed by ChemSec in close collaboration with scientists and technical experts, as well as an NGO advisory committee of leading environmental, health, women and consumer organisations mainly in Europe but also in the US. The list is based on credible, publicly available information from existing databases and scientific studies, as well as new research.
High level recognition
The European Commission has stated that the SIN List is a major driver for innovation, and the United Nations Environment Programme has highlighted the SIN List as a useful tool for chemical hazard assessment and chemical and product prioritisation.
Another example of SIN List recognition was how , Janez Potocnik, the European Commissioner for Environment at the time, a few days after the launch of the SIN List 2.0 in 2011 stated that “the recently published second edition of the SIN list, which also includes substances with endocrine disrupting properties, should indicate to you the substances the European Commission will take into consideration for placement on the candidate list.”
A widely used tool
The SIN List is a known and used tool for chemicals management globally.
- Companies use the SIN List as a hands-on instrument to identify chemicals before they are classified as SVHCs and placed on the Candidate List. Substitution of chemicals is a complex task and it’s best to start developing new solutions well ahead of legislation.
- Investors and financial analysts are using the SIN List to avoid investing in companies producing substances likely to be banned, and the financial risk that implies.
- Regulators and authorities use the SIN List in the EU but also beyond: in legislative processes foremost in the US and Asia.
- Health, environmental and consumer NGOs are using the SIN List as a campaign tool when prioritizing individual chemicals or groups of chemicals for campaigning urging safer products and stronger chemicals regulations.