This week the European Commission received the unanimous backing for a rapid and ambitious delivery of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS) from EU governments.
CHEM Trust welcomes the Council conclusions “Sustainable Chemicals Strategy: Time to deliver”. EU Governments have approved actions that will amount to a resetting of chemicals policy, which is needed to deliver the aim of the EU Green Deal to achieve zero pollution for a toxic-free environment.
The CSS commits the EU to accelerating the identification and the phase out of the most harmful chemicals from consumer products, such as the ‘forever chemicals’ PFAS and endocrine disruptors. This will require the immediate application of the ‘generic approach to risk management’ (GRA), where the most hazardous chemicals are not permitted in consumer uses, including substances that have been identified as carcinogens, endocrine disruptors or substances which accumulate in the environment or in humans.
One example of a consumer use of chemicals that will be affected by the GRA approach will be the chemicals used in food contact materials such as packaging. Current laws in this area are outdated and ineffective, with endocrine disrupting chemicals such as Bisphenol A still in use, even though it is banned in baby bottles and thermal paper. The European Commission is currently preparing a major reform of these laws.
The Council also calls for chemical regulations to address the reality that we are exposed to multiple chemicals (a chemical cocktail), by introducing a mixture assessment factor to chemical assessments. This will help to correct the systemic underestimation of the chemical risk that people and the environment are exposed to in the real world.
Views from CHEM Trust
Stefan Scheuer, Chief EU policy advocate at CHEM Trust, said:
“It’s high time to reset chemicals policy, including weeding out excessive procedures and realigning with the new EU policy direction which puts people first. The EU must act immediately on pressing chemical pollution problems and start using the existing rules more effectively, whilst also working on improving the rules themselves.”
Pia Juul Nielsen, CHEM Trust EDC science and policy expert, said
“Control of exposure to endocrine disruptors needs to be strengthened urgently to ensure a high and coherent level of protection, including for the most vulnerable, such as the developing child. “
To ensure this protection requires suspected endocrine disruptors to be identified and removed from everyday products.”
Sidsel Dyekjaer, CHEM Trust Science and Policy expert, said:
“Implementing the EU Chemical Strategy for food contact materials like packaging will bring many benefits for consumers and the environment, while also providing a level playing field and clear rules for industry.”
“The wide use of food contact materials, in combination with the well-known risk of chemicals migrating directly into our food, makes this product group an obvious good target for applying the generic risk management approach.”