EU Commission, do you see the writing on the wall?
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EU Commission, do you see the writing on the wall?

After a push from parts of the chemical industry, the EU Commission has said it will delay the REACH revision. But frontrunner companies are unhappy with the decision and have sent a letter to Ursula von der Leyen. At the same time, pressure to act on the chemical crisis is building up from the investment community. The EU Commission should see the writing on the wall and deliver an ambitious REACH revision as soon as possible.

REACH is in desperate need of a revision. As it is now, the regulation does not manage to effectively phase out the most harmful chemicals. Nor does it give sufficient support for chemical substitution and non-toxic circular economy.

A revision of the regulation has been in the pipeline for a long time now. The EU Commission has worked very hard to get everything ready, and stakeholders from all sides have spent countless resources to support and give input.

Then, suddenly, the Commission said the revision will be delayed. Instead of the first months of next year, the REACH revision is now planned for the last quarter of 2023. It might not sound like a big deal — but it is.

Since there wouldn’t be enough time to push it through, the REACH revision would have to wait for a new EU parliament and Commission to be elected and installed. In reality, a delay could mean that the REACH revision gets postponed several years.

Mounting pressure to deal with the chemical crisis
This delay does not sit well with environmental NGOs — or really anyone who hoped that the current EU Commission would be able to have a positive impact on human health and the environment.

“22 global consumer companies sent a joint letter to the President of the European Commission”

But, we’re not the only ones that are disappointed. Global brands are also really frustrated with the decision, and has now decided to speak up.

22 global consumer companies — including giants Adidas, IKEA and Decathlon — sent a joint letter today to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, encouraging her to deliver an ambitious REACH revision that would phase out the most harmful substances from products. And to do it as soon as possible.

Frontrunner companies have put much effort into phasing out the most harmful chemicals from their products and nowface the risk of losing significant market shares. Industry laggards will reap the benefits of the delay and continue to put cheaper products with harmful chemicals on the market.

A delay would disrupt all attempts to stay ahead of regulation, create problems in communicating with suppliers and go against the whole idea of predictability. It would also hamper all initiatives for circularity since this cannot happen without toxic-free material cycles.

Pressure to phase out harmful chemicals is coming from other places as well. Recently, a group of 47 investment firms with $8 trillion in assets under management wrote a joint letter to some of the world’s largest chemical companies, calling on them to phase out harmful “forever chemicals”.

So, the pressure is piling up on both industry and policymakers. Civil society, investors and progressive companies all want to phase out the most harmful substances. The EU Commission should see the writing on the wall and present the REACH revision proposal early next year.

We can’t let the laggards be a stumbling block to progress. Negotiations will surely be complicated but they won’t get any easier if we wait. We have everything we need to move ahead now.