INSIGHT: Chemical industry and partners must going ‘essential use’ debate at all levels


The ‘essential use’ concept is gaining ground in the EU as the bloc seeks to build out its legislative framework for chemicals control.

The so-called ‘precautionary principle’ has become much more embedded in the REACH regulation that aims to identify and prompt replacement of some of the most toxic or persistent in the environment chemicals that are still used in industry. Notwithstanding the fact that regulation is based on sound science, more questions are asked today, compared even with five or ten years ago, about how important in use certain substances are.

The European Commission published a Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability in October last year acknowledging the facts that most chemicals are in some ways hazardous to human health and the environment, and that chemicals production globally is likely to double by 2030.

The chemicals strategy is part of the EU’s zero pollution ambition which, the Commission says is a key commitment of the EU Green Deal.

Chemical producers, importers and users in Europe can expect greater scrutiny of what chemicals they produce, trade and use, and the importance of those chemicals in bringing real benefits in goods and services.

It is the benefits argument that is coming under greater scrutiny and by a wider section of society, not just regulators and law makers, but also deeply concerned citizens whether organised in non-governmental organisations, special interest groups or individually.

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ICIS, 27 September 2021