When the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability was introduced three years ago as part of the European Green Deal, environmental NGOs, alternative providers, and brands all celebrated together because the strategy was designed to achieve a more efficient protection of human health and our environment and boost the market for safer alternatives.
Many important reforms were presented in the strategy but one of the most important was a revision of the REACH legislation. The strategy also gave predictability to industry with clear dates when all the reforms should be pushed through.
Not so predictable after all
However, when it comes to the REACH revision, predictability is nowhere to be found.
Sure, there have been some big external events obstructing political processes. There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have stirred things up a bit, but the sad part is that these events have been skillfully employed by laggard parts of industry in order to delay critical policy reforms.
“Many companies agree that an ambitious revision of REACH is needed”
In this way, the chemical industry has managed to influence the highest levels of the EU Commission and stall an ambitious reform of the REACH legislation. But this reluctance from the chemical industry does not paint a fair picture. Many companies agree that an ambitious revision of REACH is needed.
Even though none of the strategy’s proposed reforms were enforced from the start, companies all around the EU started to shift their businesses, sustainability work and market analyses to be in line with the new chemical strategy.
This is what needs to be done
And here’s where it gets interesting! All companies ask for predictability, because predictability makes it possible to plan long-term. With regulatory uncertainty, however, companies are stuck in limbo.
An ambitious revision of REACH would create favourable market conditions for alternative providers and progressive companies. It would put Europe at the forefront of chemical production by creating a long-term sustainable position.
“The new EU elections are around the corner and things need to move fast”
And we must remember that regulation is the main driver of innovation. Already today, there are safer alternatives available for the majority of the harmful substances that need to be phased out.
This is the story that must be heard but it seems the Commission has its ear somewhere else. We need an ambitious REACH.
All the predictability and promises from three years ago risk going down the drain if the Commission doesn’t act soon. The new EU elections are around the corner and things need to move fast.