During its online safer chemicals conference on June 2, 2020 (FPF reported), officials from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and European Commission (EC) commented on efforts for the EU to move towards the use of safer chemicals and a harmonized assessment approach across EU chemicals legislation. In a series of articles following the event, regulatory news provider Chemical Watch reported on some of the key comments made by the officials and discussed the potential impact on future chemicals legislation.

In his presentation, ECHA director Bjorn Hansen suggested options for the existing EU governing bodies to better work with one another to assess chemicals just once and thus reduce the administrative burden placed on companies. He presented that current approaches increasingly taken by the agency involve grouping chemicals for assessment, sharing computational tools for more harmonized data, and considering an EU-wide safety data platform for chemicals. In a later discussion, Hansen also described the development of a coordination mechanism to better plan risk assessment and management across agency groups and structuring data in a harmonized format. A commentary article reviewing the online event also noted that Hansen’s call to develop a definition of a ‘sustainable chemical’ could prove to be a very influential exercise across both EU and international chemicals management.

In a separate presentation by Kestusis Sadauskas, director of the Directorate-General for Environment (DG Environment), EU goals for safer chemicals were presented. This included the ongoing development of a chemical strategy for sustainability within the European Green Deal (FPF reported) with the aim to manage key hazardous chemicals including endocrine disrupting substances (EDCs) and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). “Europe has the scientific and technical capacity to lead the transition to safe chemicals and non-chemical alternatives from design to end of life,” Sadauskas said. However a “transition to safe-by-design needs stronger policy support” as well as “more and better knowledge on chemicals,” including volumes and uses of chemicals placed on the market and their fate in the environment. A roadmap for the strategy has been released and is currently undergoing an open comment period until June 20, 2020 (FPF reported).

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Luke Buxton (June 3, 2020). “Stronger EU policy key to safer chemicals switch – Commission director.” Chemical Watch

Luke Buxton (June 4, 2020). “Hansen outlines EU cross-agency ‘one substance – one assessment’ plan.” Chemical Watch

Geraint Roberts (June 5, 2020). “Comment: Echa’s definition of a ‘sustainable chemical’ could be a powerful force for change.” Chemical Watch

Clelia Oziel (June 10, 2020). “EU chemicals strategy will be a ‘game changer’, says Commission director.” Chemical Watch

Luke Buxton (June 18, 2020). “NGOs urge grouping approach in EU ‘one substance – one assessment’ plan.” Chemical Watch


ECHA (June 1, 2020). “Safer Chemicals Conference 2020.”