The European Commission has made a promise to support frontrunner companies. But what do these companies want? Wonder no more; we have spoken to them, and what they really need is transparency – to get all information on chemicals in their supply chain. In an open letter, ChemSec and seven companies ask the Commission to raise the legal obligations and give strong incentives for chemical transparency.
You may think that all is well in the world of chemicals, that companies are free to push their chemicals management ambitions, changing the content of their products for the better. But they must spend enormous efforts to find out the most basic information about what their products consist of.
Secrecy is holding the market back
The lack of chemical transparency in the supply chain hinders the market from reaching its true potential, making this secrecy ultimately counterproductive – working against substitution of hazardous chemicals. A mind-shift regarding information confidentiality within the chemical industry is needed.
A free and transparent market can be an incredible force for change. The lack of information removes that potential, and this is the main barrier for companies with high ambitions to go beyond legislation.
Even for companies that are large and well-known, their level of influence when requesting information is nowhere near that of chemical producers.
“The chemicals market is currently the supplier’s market, suffering from a market failure”
Therefore, the market seems unable to solve the problem by itself. In truth, the chemicals market is currently the supplier’s market, suffering from a market failure.
Knowledge is power
A political solution is needed to solve this problem. Coincidentally, the Commission promised to support frontrunner companies in the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, and some relevant initiatives are being developed. For example, digital product passports, proposed in the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation, could be used to disclose the information frontrunner companies are looking for.
“It’s time to end the chemical secrecy and enable a toxic-free economy”
Pushing chemical producers to disclose more information about their products, thus creating greater transparency, will benefit companies that are actively trying to go the extra mile when it comes to chemicals management.
This is also how to activate market forces to work towards phasing out and substituting the most harmful chemicals.
With this open letter, ChemSec and the company coalition makes it easy to deliver on that promise. It’s time to end the chemical secrecy and enable a toxic-free economy.