• Anneleen Ghekiere

European Commission adopts Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability

On 14 October, the European Commission adopted a Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. During the press conference, Executive Vice President of the European Parliament Frans Timmermans said the EU will prioritize ‘prohibit[ng the] use of hazardous chemicals in consumer products’ and that they will take concrete actions to support the green transition of the chemicals industry. Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevicius explained that the EU will take a more preventive approach on chemicals.

The Chemicals Strategy aims to ensure better protection of human health and the environment, boost innovation for safe and sustainable chemicals, and enable the transition to chemicals that are safe and sustainable by design. It paves the way towards a toxic-free environment and proposes clear actions for the green transition of the chemicals industry.

Firstly, the Commission proposes boosting innovation for safe and sustainable chemicals. It proposes the transition towards a safe and sustainable-by design approach to chemicals and recognizes the need for a stronger policy framework and financial support. It also promotes the use of secondary raw materials and the establishment of non-toxic material cycles, and the need to innovate industrial production processes. Additionally, the strategy recognizes the need to establish safe and sustainable supply chains for some critical chemicals, such as raw materials, intermediates or active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Secondly, the communication addresses the need for a stronger EU legal framework to tackle health and environmental concerns. It aims to ensure the phase out of harmful chemicals in consumer products and proposes a preventive approach towards legislation. The Commission will also propose establishing legally binding hazard identification criteria for endocrine disruptors, incorporate chemicals mixtures into REACH, identify new criteria to avoid chemical pollution in the natural environment, and address the use of PFAS.

Thirdly, the Commission will simplify and consolidate the existing legal framework through the promotion of the “one substance, one assessment” principle and by applying a zero-tolerance approach to non-compliance.

Fourthly, the Commission will develop a comprehensive knowledge base on chemicals. The Commission aims to improve transparency and access to information and will establish a strengthened chemicals science-policy interface.

Lastly, the EU will try to set the example for a global sound management of chemicals and will promote safety and sustainability standards outside the EU.

We congratulate the Commission’s efforts to create a toxic-free environment and recognizes the need the phase out the use of hazardous chemicals. The strategy will boost industry innovation and provides for unique opportunities to develop a more sustainable and competitive chemicals industry. We especially welcome Commission efforts to establish safe and sustainable supply chains for critical substances and to build resilience.

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