The European Green Deal aims to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and aims at restoring biodiversity and cutting pollution. This requires a strong new Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability that puts words into action and adopts tools to deliver on the Commission’s Zero Pollution Ambition for a toxic-free environment. CHEM Trust’s priorities for this strategy include more action on mixtures of chemicals and effective regulations on chemicals in food contact materials like packaging.
In CHEM Trust’s response to the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability Roadmap we emphasise that more effective legislation will be needed to deal with the large volume of chemicals on the market and the multiple concerns related to the increase in production and use of chemicals.
In particular, precautionary and preventative measures are needed to address environmental and health impacts from a range of issues including:
- endocrine disruptors;
- cumulative effects of chemical mixtures;
- harmful exposure from consumer products (including food contact materials like packaging);
- extremely persistent chemicals.
Aim and ambition
CHEM Trust, as part of a coalition of NGOs, submitted comprehensive proposals on a future chemicals policy to the Commission in November 2019.
In our view chemical pollution deserves a long-term vision and an action plan with ambitious timelines to effectively and urgently reduce the exposure of people and the environment to hazardous chemicals. The European Green Deal, of which the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability is a key component, provides the ideal opportunity to set coherent and ambitious long-term targets as well as specific immediate actions.
The roadmap’s aim of reducing the length and complexity of supply chains, decreasing dependency on imports and achieving strategic autonomy for essential products must go hand in hand with reducing chemical pollution and strengthening the EU’s industrial and regulatory potential to develop safer solutions.
Certain industrial chemicals can have negative effects on the immune systems of people and wildlife thus increasing the vulnerability towards infectious diseases and pandemics. CHEM Trust is therefore calling for the EU’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability to include swift action to identify and phase out chemicals that disrupt the immune system and other hazardous chemicals that weaken our health. New efficient policies and approaches must ensure that we use chemicals wisely so the costs to environment and health do not outweigh the benefits.
CHEM Trust regards the following seven points as priorities for the new strategy and we will measure its success and relevance against these:
- Protect EU-citizens and the environment from endocrine disrupting chemicals;
- Address the reality of combined exposure to multiple sources of chemicals;
- Speed up the phase-out of problematic chemicals and avoid regrettable substitution by adopting a grouping approach;
- Use the “One substance – One assessment” approach to deliver quicker protection for people and wildlife;
- Phase out the use of PFAS and other very persistent chemicals;
- Develop new efficient legislation on food contact materials to protect consumers and the environment;
- Ensure the development of a clean circular economy.
Dr Michael Warhust, Executive Director of CHEM Trust said
“This autumn’s EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability could be a game changer for creating a more effective and protective chemical regulatory system in the EU.
It must become the centrepiece in rapidly addressing chemical threats to biodiversity and health, giving the right incentives to create a clean circular economy and setting industry on a clear path towards sustainability.”