NGOs’ chemical list for dummies

Public activists and non-government organizations especially in Europe seem to know more about the risks and hazards of specific chemical products more than the chemical producers and consumers themselves.Take for example the list of “high concern” chemicals called the Reach SIN list 1.0 provided by the International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec), the Sweden-based nonprofit organisation dedicated to working towards a toxic free environment (according to their website’s intro). The list was developed with the collaboration of other environmental groups.According to ICIS News ( subscription required), nearly 300 chemicals are on the list compared to only 16 chemicals nominated by European member states to be included on a list of “substances of very high concern” (SVHC), as agreed under the registration and evaluation of European chemicals legislation known as Reach.

“Our SIN list which should be given the highest priority in the REACH Authorisation process,” said ChemSec. “Our aim is to ensure that REACH Authorisation procedure indeed will be an effective tool to fast-track the most urgent SVHCs for substitution, and to facilitate toxic use reduction by businesses.”

The European Chemical Industry Council Cefic said the list is just another REACH scare story which has no legal value and that it will just disrupt the implementation of REACH.

“The ‘SIN list’ is a “wish list” from a specific interest group and not part of REACH; it will only contribute to confusion throughout the value chain and markets. Cefic believes that such frightening warnings are misleading, in particular at the time of the current turmoil of stock markets due to financial community problems.”

Unfortunately for Cefic, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which is responsible for running the REACH scheme, seems to be considering the SIN list and noted that it could be useful to help them choose future SVHC candidates, according to ICIS News.

“Some companies are so concerned about their green image that they want to be stricter than the law, so might use that (SIN) list if they want to eliminate more substances from their supply chain,” said ECHA executive director Geert Dancet.

ICIS News said the ECHA plans to discuss next week the first 16 chemicals under the SVHC list, which include a number of phthalate plasticizers, arsenic compounds, and certain short chained chlorinated paraffins used as flame retardants and secondary plasticizers.Another noteworthy list that came up from the European NGO sector is Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics. Under the guide, major electronic companies are ranked based on their usage of chemicals that the group considered toxic (such as certain flame retardants); on how their products are disposed or recycled; and the amount of their overall operations and product emissions.ReachforLife, a European organization that aims to restore public trusts in chemicals, accused Greenpeace of using an “unfounded rating system” to decide which chemicals were potentially harmful. You can check more of this story on ICIS news (again, this requires subscription — sorry!).

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