10 October 2006 16:35 [Source: ICIS news]
By Nigel Davis
LONDON (ICIS news)--?xml:namespace>
The final authorisation for sale of chemicals in
The European parliament’s environment committee passed its verdict on Tuesday on the amendments it wants to see strengthen the Reach proposals.
Rapporteur Guido Sacconi’s authorisation package won a strong two-thirds majority which has already extrapolated to a parliamentary victory for some tough chemicals control proposals.
Industry reaction could have been expected.
“The stricter criteria for granting authorisation and mandatory substitution, even when there is no alternative, will lead to the banning of certain substances even though there are clear socio-economic benefits and no alternative is available", the industry group Cefic said.
It added that that the situation could encourage a lot of producers to move out of
Industry still has strong support for its stance. The question is how the tussle will pan out and what could be lost by the time the proposals are applied across the EU 25 member states, which could be as early as next April.
Mandatory substitution presents chemicals makers and product users with a host of problems. At the very least, the search for alternatives would have to begin in earnest.
Reach has already exposed the paucity of information about who does what – and with what – in often long chemicals supply chains. It will have an impact across industrial and other business activity in
The biggest potential losers are the chemicals makers. But at the same time many of them can and will be winners.
Industry quite rightly now wants greater certainty and is prepared to fight its corner hard.
However, the European Parliament Environment Committee vote represents something of a step back to last November, when the parliament and Europe’s Council of Ministers pitched themselves at loggerheads over the authorisation aspects of Reach in general and the issue of mandatory substitution in particular.
Sacconi has a strong hand now in his negotiations with Council but it is difficult to see countries such as
Chemical firms will be lobbying hard in support of the Council’s more industry friendly stance.
However, as Cefic points out, now the time really has come to start talking in earnest about just what is meant under Reach by the terms “adequate control” and “safe alternatives”.
Traditionally adequate control has referred to good practice in the workplace. The concept is extended under Reach to apply down the supply chain and to after-use disposal.
Applying “adequate control” concepts will present the industry, users of its chemicals and regulatory authorities with real challenges.
But the goal is worthwhile. Indeed, there are suggestions from some industry quarters that Reach authorisations based on demonstrated adequate control could help in the phase-out of hazardous substances where use presents a significant risk.
Substitution could then follow.
What is not wanted is a blanket approach that could cause havoc. On the other hand, a more targeted system would help
The final stages of the Reach debate will hinge on, simply put, definitions of what is and what is not practicable.
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