In an article published on May 9, 2017 by the non-profit organization International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec), executive director Anne-Sofie Andersson illustrates how the authorization process under the European Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) hinders innovation of safer chemicals. Substances of very high concern (SVHCs) that have been included in the Authorisation List can only be further used if they have been granted authorization by the European Commission (EC). Applications for authorization are submitted to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and must “show that the chemical do[es] not pose any risk or can’t be replaced and that its use is vital for society,” Andersson explains. However, “it’s usually enough for an applying company to show that someone is buying its products to make a ‘strong case,’” and the availability of alternative substances is not adequately taken into account, she exemplifies.

Therefore, Andersson argues that “you hurt innovation by authorizing the use of well-known toxic substances, rather than increasing demand for emerging safer alternatives by forcing substitution.” She further outlines how “a green light to use toxic chemical leads to . . . less potential business for alternative producers[,] . . . less investment in scaling up the production of alternatives[, and] . . . keeps prices of alternatives high.” Andersson concludes that authorizing toxic chemicals is “backwards thinking” and reminds that the “widespread use of SVHCs is what REACH aims to eliminate in the first place.”

Read more

Anne-Sofie Andersson (May 9, 2017). “Why should producers of safer chemicals bother with policy when no one listens to them?ChemSec

Clelia Oziel (May 25, 2017). “NGOs criticize ECHA for ‘ignoring safer alternatives’ in authorizations.Chemical Watch