Together with ClientEarth, we wrote to the EU Commission to ask for significant changes in the way they handle authorisations for use of harmful chemicals – a system essential to drive the industry towards safe and sustainable chemistry.
Within days you will sign off the Commission Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability as part of the commitments set out in the Green Deal. On behalf of ChemSec, an environmental NGO promoting safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals, I would like to stress some important issues to make sure the Strategy will deliver on its aim to better protect citizens and the environment against hazardous chemicals.
Many of the world’s foremost chemical researchers are convinced that the presence of hazardous chemicals in the world is a global threat comparable to climate change. So, who are the companies that are producing these substances? In ChemSec’s latest endeavour – ChemScore – we dive deep into the world’s 35 largest chemical companies to see what kind of chemicals they produce. The results paint a very interesting picture of an industry in change.
Alongside news of wildfires in the Amazon rainforest and global climate protests spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, there are some environmental policy events that are worth returning to when 2019 is closing its doors. Anne-Sofie Bäckar, Executive Director at ChemSec lists five positive signs that are worth mentioning again.
To me, it’s obvious that policy makers need to step up their game. The transition to safer chemicals cannot solely be driven by consumers trying to make sense of content declarations on the back of shampoo bottles. Besides, the positive environmental impact of an informed purchase is absolutely dwarfed by an industry wide law.
Even though the oil industry is far from finished I doubt many people would call it a sector with a bright outlook.
Can we expect such a change of perception in the chemical sector? I’d say that the answer to that is yes. It’s already happening.
Innovation was on everyones’ lips last week following a vote in the EU parliament that ushered in the so-called Innovation Principle for the first time in an official EU text. At a glance – the Innovation Principle looks great. I mean, who doesn’t like innovation? It’s only when you look a bit closer at it that the cracks start to appear.
I’d like to argue that a database that can help us understand some of the toxic chemicals we surround ourselves with is pretty solid idea. And imagine the possibilities: What if it wasn’t limited to Candidate List substances, but could also include SIN List chemicals, or better yet, full material declarations? This would seriously incentivize the use of recycled materials as well as increase the value of the industry.