On 14 October 2020, the European Commission adopted the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. The Strategy is the first step towards a zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment announced in the European Green Deal. The Strategy will boost innovation for safe and sustainable chemicals, and increase protection of human health and the environment against hazardous chemicals. This includes prohibiting the use of the most harmful chemicals in consumer products such as toys, childcare articles, cosmetics, detergents, food contact materials and textiles, unless proven essential for society, and ensuring that all chemicals are used more safely and sustainably.
Increasing protection of health and the environment
The Strategy aims to significantly increase the protection of human health and the environment from harmful chemicals, paying particular attention to vulnerable population groups. Flagship initiatives include in particular:
- Phasing out from consumer products, such as toys, childcare articles, cosmetics, detergents, food contact materials and textiles, the most harmful substances, which include among others endocrine disruptors, chemicals that affect the immune and respiratory systems, and persistent substances such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), unless their use is proven essential for society;
- Minimising and substituting as far possible the presence of substances of concern in all products. Priority will be given to those product categories that affect vulnerable populations and those with the highest potential for circular economy;
- Addressing the combination effect of chemicals (cocktail effect) by taking better account of the risk that is posed to human health and the environment by daily exposure to a wide mix of chemicals from different sources;
- Ensuring that producers and consumers have access to information on chemical content and safe use, by introducing information requirements in the context of the Sustainable Product Policy Initiative.
The actions announced in the Strategy will support industrial innovation so that such chemicals become the norm on the EU market and a benchmark worldwide. This will be done mainly by:
- Considerably stepping up enforcement of EU rules both at the borders and in the single market;
- Simplifying and consolidating the EU legal framework – e.g. by introducing the ‘One substance one assessment' process, strengthening the principles of 'no data, no market' and introducing targeted amendments to REACh and sectorial legislation, to name a few.
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