Reports on substitution of chemicals of concern – an overview


On March 7, 2023, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published three reports on the substitution of chemicals of concern. The reports focus on cross-country analysis of alternatives assessment and substitution, third-party approaches, and economic incentives. The reports update and build upon the work published in January 2019 (FPF reported). The OECD reports summarize how a multi-method approach composed of regulatory and voluntary elements is most effective in supporting the substitution of chemicals of concern.

Regulations are crucial in restricting the use of certain chemicals, and the voluntary approaches aim to encourage needed dialogue amongst stakeholders, exchanging information and key learnings. According to the report, third-party organizations, i.e., NGOs or academic institutions are necessary to make advancements in the field by imparting technical assistance, knowledge, and training to a variety of audiences.

The authors identify critical hurdles in assisting the substitution of chemicals of concern. While efforts are made in creating dialogues, these efforts need to be sustained and improved further by governments, industry, trade unions, NGOs, and the public. “Communication was pointed out as one of the best means to help address the complexity of substitution practices (in particular trade-offs) and the “fear of the unknown” when industry engages in substitution.” Other challenges include the need for support in filling data gaps, promoting transparency along the supply chain, and science-based governance that is consistent and predictable.

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Food Packaging Forum, 23-03-23