European Commission takes the global lead on chemical restriction
This week the EC revealed an ambitious plan to further restrict the use of harmful chemicals in Europe.
The Restrictions Roadmap published on Monday sets out a plan to significantly expand the list of chemicals that could be banned for wide usage in future years. Described as a ‘rolling’ list, entire chemical groups could be included for the first time, representing a huge step change from the current regulations which take a chemical-by-chemical approach when adding chemicals to the REACH list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC).
Entire chemical groups such as PFAS and Bisphenols could be included for the first time, representing a significant step forward in the reduction of chemicals, including endocrine disruptors, used in everyday manufacturing processed.
This updated approach has the potential to overcome one of the key challenges of the current legislation, that is – when an individual substance is banned, another chemically similar substance can replace it and be used without restriction, perpetuating the problem. Legislation to restrict how a given chemical substance can be used can seriously lag behind the chemical industry’s capability to replace banned substances with other unrestricted substances.
In October 2020 the EU Commission published a Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability Towards a Toxic-Free Environment. The new Restrictions Roadmap builds on the strategy in this ambitious working document, made available by the EU Commission.
The roadmap aims to reduce exposure of people and the environment to some of the most harmful chemicals, addressing a wide range of their uses – industrial, professional, and in consumer products.
Effectively an update the EU REACH regulation passed in 2006, the idea is to review these chemicals including hormone disruptors and persistent chemicals and legally ban them from use. Further papers will be prepared to take these aims forwards in due course.
The key principles of the EU REACH Regulations were retained in the UK until 1st January 2021 when UK REACH replaced them. The UK REACH and the EU REACH regulations operate independently from each other.
UK REACH – Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals