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New strategy promotes substitution to safer chemicals in the EU


ECHA’s substitution strategy aims to encourage the replacement of harmful chemicals by boosting the availability and adoption of safer alternatives and technologies. It highlights networking, capacity building, and improving access to data, funding and technical support as key areas for action.

Helsinki, 29 January 2018 – The strategy outlines four main areas of action for coordinated, EU-wide support of substitution:

  1. Capacity building along the supply chain

Initiating dialogue about the opportunities and challenges of substitution and building collaboration that advances research, evaluation and the adoption of safer alternatives to substances of concern.

  1. Funding and technical support for substitution initiatives

Improving awareness by mapping the available funding and technical support relevant for substitution-related projects and making the information more accessible to companies.

  1. Using ECHA’s chemicals data more efficiently

ECHA’s databases on chemicals are a valuable tool in supporting sustainable substitution through a proper understanding of the hazards and risks associated with the substances to be substituted. The strategy proposes several projects that could be developed to further facilitate the use of this data for substitution.

  1. Developing coordination and collaboration networks

In addition to developing existing networks, the strategy proposes to establish a multi-stakeholder network comprising the European Commission and Member State competent authorities, industry organisations, individual companies, NGOs, research organisations and consumer associations interested in substitution.

The strategy draws on feedback from stakeholders, Member States and the European Commission. Its implementation will form part of ECHA’s annual work plan, and learnings from supply chain collaboration workshops will help to further develop the strategy from 2019 onwards. Progress on the strategy’s implementation will be reported annually.

The strategy is linked to the EU priorities of a more circular and bio-based economy, the sustainable manufacture and use of chemicals and a non-toxic environment.

Background information

The EU chemicals legislation aims to ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment both for present and future generations while also ensuring the efficient functioning of the internal market and the competitiveness of the European chemicals industry. The REACH, CLP and Biocidal Products regulations have been designed to put pressure on and provide incentives for industry to try to replace hazardous substances with less hazardous ones. By ensuring that these regulations are implemented successfully, ECHA supports substitution both directly and indirectly.