What did 2021 bring for CHEM Trust?
2021 was an exciting year for CHEM Trust, with developments in all areas of our work progressing our aim to prevent synthetic chemicals from causing long term damage to wildlife or humans.
“Forever Chemicals” PFAS
We participated in a public hearing at the EU Court of Justice supporting the EU decision to include GenX, a chemical which is part of the PFAS family, on its candidate list as a substance of very high concern. This was our first time participating in a legal public hearing and was a great opportunity to draw considerable media attention to the issue of persistent chemicals.
To highlight the presence of PFAS in food packaging, in May we published the results of a collaborative EU-wide study we were involved in. Worryingly, the results showed that all of the food paper packaging we tested had been intentionally treated with PFAS. The report findings have been a key resource to support our call for a ban on all non-essential uses of PFAS, including in food packaging.
Post-Brexit chemicals management
2021 was the first year of ‘Brexit Britain’ where the UK took steps towards designing its own system of chemicals management (UK REACH). Throughout the year we highlighted worrying signs of divergence from the global gold standard of EU chemicals management. In December our concerns mounted, leading us to question the viability of the new UK regulatory system.
We still do not know when the UK Chemicals Strategy will be released which will outline the UK Government’s approach for managing chemicals. We wrote to the Government back in May 2021 with 26 other UK public health and environmental NGOs outlining 12 Key Asks we want to be prioritised in the strategy. Over the course of the year, we raised awareness on the importance of our asks and the issue of chemical pollution amongst other UK NGOs.
Revision of EU REACH
It has been just over a year since the EU published the ‘Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability’, a detailed vision of how to achieve a toxic-free environment. One key part of this has been the development of a “Restrictions Roadmap”. CHEM Trust continued to highlight the need to regulate chemicals such as PFAS, bisphenols and flame retardants as groups, rather than one chemical as a time, and hope this can be done under this roadmap. We took the time to reflect on progress made in 2021 and overall feel that the Commission has made a good start in implementing the strategy.
Food Contact Materials (FCM)
In October, a European Parliament resolution called for rapid reform of FCM laws which we fully supported. Throughout our advocacy work in this area, we continued to push for all hazardous chemicals to be banned from consumer products by 2030, including food contact materials.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)
There were numerous, opportunities to contribute to EU action on EDCs this year and our team was busy contributing to these policy processes. We also highlighted particular chemicals, such as resorcinol, that we believe should be identified as substances of very high concern based on their endocrine disrupting properties.
2021 was a busy year for CHEM Trust and at the start of 2022 it seems pertinent to lay out our wishes for the year ahead. In the UK we hope to see a Chemicals Strategy that protects humans and the environment from hazardous chemicals and in the EU we want an acceleration of processes for the revision of EU chemical legislation. Fingers crossed for a good year!
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We hope you had a great start to the year and stay tuned for all that lies ahead for CHEM Trust in 2022!