Council approves conclusions on the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability
The Council today endorsed a new chemicals strategy setting a long-term vision for the EU chemicals policy. The strategy aims to achieve a toxic-free environment with a higher level of protection of human health and the environment, while strengthening the competitiveness of the EU’s chemicals industry. In its conclusions, the Council asks the Commission to implement the actions laid down in the strategy, including targeted amendments to streamline EU chemicals legislation, substituting and minimising substances of concern, and phasing out the most harmful chemicals for non-essential societal uses.
The strategy specifically sets out to ban the most harmful chemicals in consumer products such as cosmetics, toys, detergents, childcare items, furniture, textiles or materials that come in contact with food, unless they are deemed essential for health, safety or the functioning of society, or if no alternative is available. The Council also highlights the importance of limiting exposure to endocrine disruptors (hazardous for the hormone system) and to reducing the harmful effects of chemical mixtures.
The strategy aims to phase-out hazardous chemicals that affect vulnerable groups. Overall, all chemicals should be used more sustainably and safely.
A key novelty in the strategy is the shift of focus onto a” safe and sustainable-by-design” approach. Member states support this life-cycle approach that takes into account the toxicity of chemicals at all stages of their existence – from manufacture to use, recycling and disposal. The purpose is to prevent hazardous chemicals from entering products already at the design phase. This approach also aims to boost innovation and sustainability in the chemicals sector.
The Council endorses the EU taking a leading role at the global stage, by promoting its rules on chemicals as the golden standard, as well as ensuring that the EU has secured access to chemicals that are critical for health and the functioning of society.
On 14 October 2020, the European Commission presented the “EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability – Towards a toxic-free Environment”. The chemicals strategy is an essential part of the Green Deal and its zero-pollution ambition. It is also a key component in the recovery plan from the COVID 19 crisis.
With more than 40 pieces of legislation, the EU has a solid set of chemicals legislation in place. This includes an overarching framework on the registration, evaluation and assessment of chemicals and the labelling and classification of chemicals, but also sectoral legislation on, biocides, toys, cosmetics, paints, pesticides, etc.