Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability: Towards a Toxic-Free Environment

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…in order to develop and deploy the sustainable chemicals that enable the green and digital transitions and to protect environment and human health, in particular that of vulnerable groups, innovation for the green transition of the chemical industry and its value chains must be stepped up and the existing EU chemicals policy must evolve and respond more rapidly and effectively to the challenges posed by hazardous chemicals. This includes ensuring that all chemicals are used more safely and sustainably, promoting that chemicals having a chronic effect for human health and the environment – substances of concern – are minimised and substituted as far as possible, and phasing out the most harmful ones for non-essential societal use, in particular in consumer products.

A more coherent, predictable and stronger regulatory framework, combined with nonregulatory incentives, will drive the necessary innovation, deliver increased protection, while enhancing the competitiveness of the European chemical industry and its value chains. To ensure a level playing field between EU and non-EU players, the EU must ensure full enforcement of its rules on chemicals both internally and at its borders, and promote them as a gold standard worldwide, in line with our international commitments.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only added to the urgency to protect human and planetary health but it has also made us aware that manufacturing and supply chains have become increasingly complex and globalised for some critical chemicals, such as those to produce pharmaceuticals. The EU must strengthen its open strategic autonomy with resilient value chains and diversify sustainable sourcing for those chemicals that have essential uses for our health and for achieving a climate-neutral and circular economy.

This strategy highlights the areas where the Commission wants to make greater progress, in close concertation with stakeholders to fine-tune these objectives as part of rigorous impact assessment processes building on the ample evidence already gathered on the performance of existing legislation. The Commission will establish a high-level roundtable with representatives from industry including SMEs, science and the civil society to realise the strategy’s objectives in dialogue with the stakeholders concerned. Discussions of the
roundtable are envisaged to focus in particular on how to make the chemicals legislation
work more efficiently and effectively and how to boost the development and uptake of innovative safe and sustainable chemicals across sectors.

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