The food packaging, cosmetics, toys and construction industries are still using thousands of potentially harmful chemicals. Now, according to a new action plan revealed by the European Commission on Monday 25 April, these could face restrictions soon.
The “Restrictions Roadmap” shows an overview of the restrictions planned or under development, targeting several groups of chemicals that have become a source of concern in recent years. Flame retardants, bisphenols, PVC plastics, toxic chemicals found in baby diapers, and nearly indestructible PFAS are some of the chemicals included in the restrictions. Industry groups say a total of 12,000 chemicals could fall under the new restrictions.
However the commission claims that the roadmap will allow companies to “anticipate and prepare for future restrictions, for example by beginning to assess the substitution of these substances in the manufacturing processes”.
“This ‘great detox’ promises to improve the safety of almost all manufactured products,” said Tatiana Santos, a campaigner from the European Environmental Bureau.
The plan is to restrict groups of toxic chemicals as a rule, as opposed to assessing substances individually. The list of substances will be frequently reviewed and updated. The list will be used by the European Chemicals Agency to implement new restrictions until the EU’s flagship Reach regulation is updated in 2027. Additionally, EU member states are allowed to propose new restrictions for substances not yet included in the list.
Under the revision of the Reach regulation, “the commission wants to introduce bans on groups of harmful substances without the need to demonstrate an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment on a case-by-case basis”.
EU member states have been welcoming of the roadmap as an interim solution until the extension of the generic approach to risk management is fully in place. Earlier this year, the EU Commission committed to reducing pollution in air, water and soil to levels that are no longer harmful to human health and natural ecosystems by 2050.