The Chemical Strategy is a golden opportunity for the chemicals industry in the EU
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The Chemical Strategy is a golden opportunity for the chemicals industry in the EU

Following the release of our ChemScore ranking last week, in which we criticize chemical companies for having huge portfolios of toxic chemicals, one could expect us to be quite critical of the recent industry economic analysis from Cefic. In case you missed it, a couple of weeks ago the trade body released its prediction of the future if key parts of the Chemical Strategy were to be implemented as intended.

Based on the ensuing media coverage of the report, ChemSec’s impression was that it boasts the usual industry shock predictions and doom and gloom scenarios if these legislative changes become a reality. Obviously, parts of it are just that – but it wouldn’t really be a report from the chemicals industry without a little bit of doom and gloom, now would it? For example, there are estimations we think are given too much weight as they are based on uncertain assumptions (such as the supposed 12 percent reduction in turnover versus a baseline that is continuously increasing).

However, looking beyond this there’s actually a lot in the report that make us confident that the chemicals industry in the EU will not only survive the Chemical Strategy, but actually prosper under it.

For example, industry believes that about one third of the chemicals that are likely to be affected by the legislative changes can be substituted or reformulated. This shows that there is already ample capacity today to phase out Substances of Concern, and that the pressure on the chemicals industry to do just that has been too lax in the past.

“The chemicals industry in the EU will not only survive the Chemical Strategy, but actually prosper under it”

And the industry does have its work cut out. The report reveals that 74 percent of products in scope are to be impacted, meaning that the problem of Substances of Concern is significant. This is an concerning number that motivates the actions in the Chemical Strategy, and it is great to see Cefic providing us with these facts in its own report.

But surely the chemical companies must be reluctant to tackle such change? No actually not. About 45 percent of the polled companies expect zero – or even positive – effects on their competitiveness. In other words: close to half are looking at the new legislation with confidence, or even with optimism!

And even though the report projects a short-term decrease in turnover, it also projects a long-term increase in turnover. From what we can see, if innovation is boosted and more chemicals can be substituted or reformulated, the increase in turnover would be even bigger.

And herein lies the golden opportunity for the EU chemicals industry. The EU already has the most progressive chemicals legislation in REACH, and judging by the scores in our ChemScore ranking we can see that this has greatly benefitted Europe’s chemicals industry. The chemical companies in the EU score well across the board in all categories that relate to research and development of safer chemicals. The conclusion one must draw from this is that REACH has really helped keep the industry on its toes and stay healthy. In this situation it is only logical to up the dose even more to get an even better result, and by upping the dose we obviously mean to implement the Chemical Strategy as intended.

The industry will manage just fine. It’s all there in black and white in Cefic’s report.