Substitution only one element of chemical safety – Proctor & Gamble

24 May 2012 17:20  [Source: ICIS news]

HELSINKI (ICIS)--Substituting a material is only one element of effective chemical safety and regulation, US consumer products giant Proctor & Gamble said on Thursday.

Speaking in a debate at the Helsinki Chemicals Forum, Proctor & Gamble vice president of external relations Hans Bender said there is more to the safe management of chemicals than simply substituting hazardous substances and that the industry should be looking at safety throughout the whole chain supply.   

“We also see responsibility for the safe handling of chemicals all the way down to the consumer and this is where the responsibility for safety really lies,” he added.

However, Bender said that the European chemical industry, and in many cases the industry around the world, has generally stepped up to the responsibilities to improve safety through chemical supply chains and is accepting the challenge.

He said that sustainability is also an important element for chemical safety adding that trade body Cefic’s recent sustainability strategy shows that the chemical industry is moving forward and encouraging sustainability in the sector.

However, looking at the latest legislation around chemical safety and regulation, particularly Reach, questions were asked whether substance substitution for hazardous chemicals was actually being encouraged.

Director of international chemical secretariat ChemSec, Anne-Sofie Andersson, said two methods within the Reach programme should be promoting and leading to substance substitution with one being far more affective than the other.

“Authorisation and the candidate list [are the two major stages for substitution within Reach],” said Andersson.

“So far authorisation has not promoted substitution, where as the candidate list gets the thumbs up as it promotes and encourages substance substitution,” she added.

Andersson said the authorisation stage, which involves a substance being given authorisation if the benefits of continued use outweigh the risks, is a slow process with an uncertain outcome.

“We do not know how much information will be available for applications of authorisations. Will it be possible for third parties to contribute or not? Will they have enough time to contribute? Will they know enough about the uses [of the substances] to be able to identify if their alternatives are suitable?” she added.

Andersson said Reach’s candidate list, however, promotes substitution by producers and manufacturers analysing what is in products and then prioritising those products. She added that they can then set up an alternative substance plan.

Turning to the industry's concerns over registration costs, Andersson said that promoting substitution and removing hazardous chemicals from products could actually save the industry money by reducing its waste bills.

The Helsinki Chemicals Forum is being held on 24-25 May. 


By: Leigh Stringer
+44 208 652 3214



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