14 July 2003 16:54 [Source: ICIS news]LONDON (CNI)--Europe’s biggest environmental groups said on Monday the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) continues to do everything to “destroy the remainders of the reform” in the European Union’s (EU) chemical policy.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Friends of the Earth (FoE), Greenpeace and WWF argued that the European Commission’s (EC) reform plans have already been seriously watered down due to industry lobbying.
Stefan Scheuer of EEB, commented: “Rather than lobbying to block the overdue reform of EU chemicals policy, the public expects the chemicals industry to embrace and promote a new EU regime that could make their activities and products cleaner and safer.”
In their joint contribution* to the EC’s internet consultation on the proposed registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (Reach) regime, which they published today, the green groups highlighted what they claim were EC’s “critical flaws”:
- The EC would permit continued use of the worst chemicals, even when safer alternatives are available;
- Industry would be allowed to keep on withholding information about hazardous chemicals used in consumer products.
?xml:namespace>At the same time, the green groups showed how substituting hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives could become a realistic goal for the future Reach system.
In an annex to their internet submission to the EC, they provided examples of precedents in EU law that have successfully driven industry towards innovative and competitive solutions based on safer substitutes, including case studies of companies that already apply substitution in practice.
Mary Taylor of FoE, said: “Substituting hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives works in practice – but only progressive companies do it voluntarily. Many chemical companies try to block any reform so they can continue producing their outdated, unsafe products. Only stricter legislation will make them move ahead.”
Jorgo Iwasaki Riss of Greenpeace, added: “Safer chemicals should be seen as a business opportunity. Industry should start to substitute hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives. Apple, Sony and IKEA have shown that this is possible. It is companies like these that lead the way."
Riss added: ”The EU legislators should look to such progressive companies and not give in to the blackmail of old, dirty industry associations. The duty of the chemical industry is to produce safe products, not to undermine legislation intended to improve consumer and environmental protection.”
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