REACH Having the Desired Effect

The REACH regime used in the European Union is creating a strong push for end users to substitute less-hazardous chemicals, according to a study conducted by Joel Tickner and Molly Jacobs from the University of Massachusetts Lowell Centre for Sustainable Production.

The REACH regime used in the European Union is creating a strong push for end users to substitute less-hazardous chemicals, according to a study conducted by Joel Tickner and Molly Jacobs from the University of Massachusetts Lowell Centre for Sustainable Production. The study, commissioned by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), also found that, to speed up the process of identifying very hazardous substances and substitution, limited staff must be increased and other resources should be focused on substitution, end users' gnorance of safer alternatives, and limited information in the supply chains.

It calls for increased education on substitution and efforts to stimulate collaboration within supply chains, particularly for the benefit of small and medium-sized businesses, by ECHA, EU Member States, and industry and says more government-facilitated research, public-private partnerships, and more detailed guidance and technical support are needed to ensure successful substitution.

"The findings and recommendations of this report are very interesting and highly valuable to our work to stimulate the replacement of substances of concern by safer alternatives. I believe that this work lists concrete proposals that regulators and industry should seriously consider to implement. ECHA will take the recommendations forward with its co-regulators and stakeholder organizations in the coming months," said Geert Dancet, ECHA's executive director.

The report builds on the experience of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute attached to the University of Massachusetts Lowell and on a survey of Member States, industry representatives, and consultants.

"One aspect where Europe can learn from the U.S. is that the pressure to substitute hazardous chemicals in the U.S. derives more through the supply chains, where the retailers and brands play a key role. In Europe, regulations seem to be a more important driver. Improved sectoral and supply chain collaboration and information sharing could accelerate substitution in Europe even before regulatory actions are taken," said Tickner.

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