Neville Prior

European Environment Agency Urges ’Inclusive, Visionary’ Chemicals Policies

Neville Prior  2 March 2018 10:37:43 AM
Image:European Environment Agency Urges ’Inclusive, Visionary’ Chemicals Policies
Growing chemical production and changing exposure patterns due to societal "megatrends", necessitate more inclusive policy approaches and prioritising of critical parameters, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has said. Its comments form part of ten key ideas the agency has outlined in a report, following a seminar in May last year of its scientific committee - a group of 17 independent scientists, representing a variety of environmental concerns.

A less toxic environment requires visionary and inclusive stakeholder approaches, the report - Chemicals for a sustainable future - says in one of its messages.

In others, it says the European legislation has reduced acute pollution, but chronic, less apparent, effects persist. And that policy approaches need to be further integrated in support of sustainability objectives.

The EEA report also calls for "targeted innovation" for more sustainable chemistry, and avoidance of upstream use of persistent and hazardous chemicals.

Additionally, it says a focus on critical parameters is more important than gathering more general data. And that monitoring for a wider variety of chemicals can provide earlier warnings.

"We need to move away from the conflict model towards a new model of collaboration, transparency and trust between industry, scientists and regulators," said committee member Greet Schoeters from the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO).

Guests at the seminar included Björn Hansen, then the head of DG Envi's chemicals unit. Mr Hansen, currently the executive director of Echa, told the seminar a key to integrated environmental policies might be "to look at the world from an upstream chemicals perspective" rather than one that focuses on products and articles. "What matters is the total impact," he said, and that in terms of governance, the principles to follow are to "avoid and minimise" the use of chemicals. With regard to substances in products, Mr Hansen said: "We need to provide 'carrots' for industry."
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