“It don’t matter if you’re black or white”
If you follow ChemSec in any capacity I guess it’s been hard to miss that the SIN List turns 10 years this week. One might refer to it as a ”blacklist”, as it lists the bad stuff, what not to use in products and supply chains. Some call the blacklist approach old fashioned and out-dated.
Let’s focus on what you can use instead of what you cannot, they say. Following this train of thought it is tempting to just advocate getting rid of all blacklists and develop whitelists instead.
But in fact, you need both. It is not a question of black or white. Let’s try and sort it out:
Many blacklists, such as the SIN List, the Candidate List or the Stockholm Convention List are universal. They are based on the hazardous properties of the chemicals, regardless of where they may be used. These are chemicals you ideally would want to get rid of completely.
“Many blacklists are universal, while whitelists are often specific to function and use”
Whitelists on the other hand are often specific to function and use. Legally, versions of whitelists exist in specific product directives. For example preservatives allowed in cosmetics, or pesticides allowed in the EU.
There are only a few examples of voluntary whitelists. One is the electronics label TCO certified – a whitelist of allowed flame-retardants in their labelled products.
This is of course very useful for a company that is considering substituting a flame-retardant in electronics, but flame-retardants allowed for use in electronics are not suitable in all concentrations or for all uses in all products.
“Imagine putting together a universal whitelist applicable for any product”
Moreover, there are more chemicals in an electronic product than just flame-retardants, and this is where the blacklist comes in. To establish a whitelist of all allowed chemicals in an electronic product would be a huge task. Then, on top of that, imagine putting together a universal whitelist applicable for any product.
At ChemSec, we believe that the SIN List will keep playing an important role also in the years to come. Giving guidance on what chemicals to stay away from in order to keep ahead of regulation, regardless on your specific product category.
But we will not leave you on the dark side.
With the Marketplace project we are building an extensive database of products free from SIN-listed chemicals. From now you can also find these products directly through the SIN List database.