In an article published on March 8, 2018, non-governmental organization (NGO) International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec) informed about the analysis it has performed together with ClientEarth, focused on how well the REACH regulation is doing in terms of promoting substitution of hazardous chemicals. This study concluded that the current “chemicals approval process gives undue influence to companies producing dangerous chemicals and stifles information on safer alternatives, limiting the market for companies that produce them.”
The legal text of REACH request that an authorization for a hazardous substance whose risks cannot be controlled should be given only in case when there are no safer alternatives available and if the benefits of use outweigh the risks. However, these requirements are “not implemented properly,” the NGOs say, because the search for safer alternatives is usually performed by the very companies that apply for authorization permits. These companies may have a clear economic incentive to continue their “business-as-usual” and remain with the original hazardous substance in question. Indeed, several hazardous substances have been granted an authorization in the past, despite the existence of safer alternatives which have been omitted in the analysis of available substitutes.
The NGOs request that the applicants’ analysis of alternatives should be “checked by safeguard mechanisms.” These should be pro-actively put forward by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Otherwise, there could be “a clear bias that is very likely to distort the chemicals market, to the detriment of companies producing safer substances.”
ChemSec (March 8, 2018). “EU chemicals approval process stifles safer alternatives.”
Clelia Oziel (March 8, 2018). “’Vague’ REACH review actions neglect SVHC substitution, NGOs say.” Chemical Watch
ChemSec and ClientEarth (March 2018). “How to find and analyse alternatives in the Authorisation process.”