2020 Highlights from CHEM Trust
We would like to wish all our followers and supporters a happy new year, and that everyone is safe and healthy!
While 2020 was a very challenging year for everyone, we wanted to highlight some of the good news on actions to protect our health and the environment from harmful chemicals. We hope to build upon these successes in 2021.
– The EU Commission published its new Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability in October. The strategy contained several commitments such as banning the most harmful chemicals from consumer products including endocrine disrupting chemicals. We were generally very pleased with the announcement, and we hope to see the strategy implemented swiftly in full. Read more.
– The EU committed to revising legislation on hazardous chemicals in food contact materials. On the 20th May the European Commission published its new Farm to Fork Strategy which includes a clear acknowledgment of the need for EU laws on chemicals in food contact materials, like packaging, to be revised to improve the protection of public health. Read more.
– In September several cosmetics brands announced that they are phasing out the use of the preservative butylparaben, which is a chemical that is known to disrupt the hormone system. Read more.
– 2020 also saw good progress in the movement to phase out PFAS, the ‘forever chemicals’, as a group across Europe. Since July, all PFAS are banned from cardboard and paper food packaging in Denmark and five European Member State have started working on a European-wide restriction of all PFAS in all uses which are not essential for society by 2025.
– Over the summer four phthalate chemicals DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP were restricted in the EU in many consumer products, due to their impact on male fertility. Phthalates are a well-known problematic group of chemicals for human health, and several are known to be reprotoxic and hormone disrupting.
– Just before Christmas, the UK and EU finalised a new trade agreement. It didn’t secure the outcome we wanted – that would have kept the UK within EU REACH, the EU chemicals regulation. However, it avoided a no-deal outcome and constrains the extent to which the UK could weaken its chemical protection standards in future, as this could spark retaliatory sanctions by the EU. It also offers a platform on which a much closer partnership with the EU on chemicals could be negotiated in future. In the meantime, UK consumers and the environment will not benefit from the EU’s relatively high protections as they continue to improve, but we believe there is a route for the UK to re-enter REACH in future.
– In December the EU Court (General Court) overruled the plastics lobby by upholding the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)’s 2018 decision to recognise bisphenol A (BPA) – a chemical used to make plastics – as a hormone-disrupting chemical for wildlife. This ruling was the third attempt by trade association PlasticsEurope to reverse ECHA’s decision – each has been rejected. Read more.
– In the Autumn, EU Member States voted to ban Mancozeb, a fungicide that is known to be an endocrine disruptor and toxic to reproduction. Mancozeb is commonly used in the production of a range of crops including onions, potatoes, flower bulbs and some fruits, to protect against various fungi.The ban will come into effect in February 2021. Read more.