We are facing an EU and global toxic pollution crisis caused by a huge number of hazardous chemicals present in consumer products, such as food packaging, clothes or toys. These chemicals have been linked to adverse health effects, amplify climate impacts and accelerate the loss of biodiversity.
The EU’s flagship chemicals regulation, REACH, has brought significant improvements by bringing most chemicals into a common regulatory scheme, but progress in restricting the most hazardous chemicals has remained limited due to fundamental problems in putting the burden of proof on industry.
With the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, the key pillar for delivering the European Green Deal’s commitment to zero-pollution, the European Commission has put forward over 70 actions and, importantly, committed to ban the most harmful chemicals from consumer products. A proposal to revise REACH will be published by the end of 2022, including an extension of the generic risk management approach to more groups of hazardous chemicals, so that these chemicals are banned from consumer products by default.
The European Commission has established a High-Level Round Table (HLRT) with representatives from international organisations, the Member State holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU, industry, academia and civil society, with the mission to realise the objectives of the Chemicals Strategy and to monitor its implementation, in dialogue with the stakeholders concerned. CHEM Trust and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) are appointed as members of the HLRT along with seven other civil society organisations. The project partners see the implementation of the Chemicals Strategy as a unique opportunity. But they also see the risk of chemical industry representatives slowing progress and lowering ambition of regulatory action.
Project goals and measures
The project aims to achieve a solid implementation of the European Commission’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, launched on 14 October 2020. It will strengthen coordination among civil society actors and their capacity to advocate for environmentally sound chemical policy at EU and Member States’ level.
The project partners, CHEM Trust and the EEB, will take a lead role in coordinating and supporting civil society organisations, including those appointed as members of the High-Level Round Table on the Chemicals Strategy. Civil society actors will scrutinise procedures and content, and deliver strategic input to decision-making processes. They will increase the understanding of the importance of the Chemicals Strategy and build up public pressure to accelerate the regulation of chemicals and strengthen policy.
The Chemicals Strategy is a unique opportunity to better protect humans, wildlife and the wider environment from the most harmful chemicals, and to accelerate their ban in consumer products.