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REVEALED: EU regulation drives companies to substitute hazardous chemicals for safer alternatives

Regulation is the main driver for substitution concludes new ECHA study

In a new study, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) surveyed industry associations and more than 80 companies to find out what drives companies to substitute hazardous chemicals for safer alternatives.

The answer: EU regulation.

Almost half of the companies (47%) stated that EU regulation is the main driving force behind substitution of harmful chemicals. With 19% of the answers, the REACH restriction process was deemed to be the single most important trigger for substitution with the REACH authorisation process following closely with 15%.

“We are not surprised by the result, I guess no one really is, but it’s always nice to have actual numbers that strengthen our arguments. The study clearly shows that a strengthened EU regulation on chemicals is key to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals” comments Frida Hök, ChemSec’s Deputy Director. Frida has an extensive knowledge about chemical legislation and is constantly on the road travelling to policy meetings all over Europe. Frida project leads most of ChemSec’s policy focused reports.

Aside from regulation, companies highlighted demands from their customers, enhancing their public image and adopting their own corporate sustainability policies as other important drivers to substitute hazardous substances.

“The study clearly shows that a strengthened EU regulation is key to reduce hazardous chemicals”

Bjorn Hansen

“It’s clear that the most innovative companies are those that have adopted a green mindset, with substitution at the core of their business activities”, said Björn Hansen, ECHA’s Executive Director, when the study was published. Bjorn Hansen is ECHA’s legal representative, in charge of the day-to-day management and all staff matters Bjorn is ECHA’s second Executive Director with a mandate running from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2022.

According to the companies interviewed in this study, the main benefits of replacing hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives were reduced emissions of harmful substances – both in relation to worker exposure levels and the environment. Almost half of the companies (44%) stated these as key benefits.

Aside from emissions, the companies highlighted an improved consumer perception of the company’s environmental and social sustainability as another benefit.

“The upcoming Chemical Strategy that is now discussed and negotiated within the Commission has an important role to play. It needs to make sure that the regulation becomes stricter, as well as the way it is implemented and enforced” Frida Hök concludes.

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