A new EU strategy entitled “chemical strategy for sustainability” proposes a more holistic approach to help maintain a high level of protection for people and environment and boost innovation for safe and sustainable chemicals.
The specific regulation on chemicals in the EU is called REACH. It is the regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals.
It requires manufacturers and importers of chemicals to register each substance they make or place on the market in quantities exceeding one tonne in a central database managed by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). From 2008 to 2018, Europe created the largest chemical database in the world with 21 551 chemicals registered including petrochemical products. In 2019, the European chemical industry launched an unprecedented action to help its members proactively and systematically review and update data in previously submitted REACH registration dossiers. This initiative comes in response to the recent conclusion by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) that many REACH registration dossiers require additional information.
In October 2020, the European Commission published the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS).
This strategy aims to reduce the risks associated with producing and using chemicals. It will simplify and strengthen EU rules on chemicals, and review how EU agencies and scientific bodies can work together towards a process where substances are only reviewed by one agency. This will help to better protect people and the environment from hazardous chemicals, encourage the development of safe and sustainable alternatives and make it even easier to trade safe chemicals within the EU
Cefic, to which Petrochemicals Europe belongs welcomes the new compliance, enforcement and innovation proposals in the CSS, which are much needed in Europe.
However, the strategy is a missed opportunity for a strategy to accelerate how Europe’s fourth largest industry can deliver on the Green Deal, as a growth strategy, while reinforcing EU global leadership on chemical regulations. The list of regulatory measures contained in the strategy lacks sufficient clarity on how they will be joined up, how they relate to real-world geopolitical context like Brexit or how they will all add up to achieve the Green Deal objectives.
Europe needs a Green Deal ‘game plan’ for its chemical industry, from large companies to SMEs and all its downstream customers, which can deliver the investments needed at scale to meet the chemical strategy goals and at the same time invest in things like electric crackers, hydrogen, chemical recycling, Carbon Capture Storage and Utilisation.
This is why we are calling for a sectoral Green Deal for chemicals to help fulfil the enabling role of Europe’s chemical industry to deliver investments needed at scale for chemical strategy & sustainable innovations and to help industry fulfil its enabling role.