There are many reasons why companies or other organisations may look to substitute a chemical, such as improving the environmental footprint of their products or manufacturing processes, providing a better technical functionality or responding to client demands or legal requirements. As part of these development efforts, it is important to look to reduce the potential risks caused by the substances that are used. Several substitution options should be considered: switching to a less hazardous chemical, using an alternative technique or creating a different product design. In practice, it is usually a combination of these actions that leads to success. Often, these actions improve production efficiency, drive innovation, help companies to gain a competitive advantage and save costs, and ultimately benefit human health and the environment.
Innovation and efficiency
Looking for safer alternatives makes your company look systematically at what you are doing and how you are doing it. You may even realise that the function performed by the substance or mixture you are using is no longer necessary if you change your process or the design of your product. This in turn is a driver for innovation. Revisiting your materials and production process can also result in more efficiency, including the lower use of resources or the generation of less waste during the life-cycle of your end product.
Replacing hazardous chemicals can give you a competitive advantage in the market place. Your customers will appreciate effective products that are also safer for workers and consumers and with fewer adverse impacts on the environment. Your substitution can also enable your customers to gain a market advantage and can reduce their costs of complying with the legislation on chemical safety. Market your product well and you will stand out from the competition.
Savings in regulatory costs
Hazardous chemicals are more tightly regulated so as to protect humans and the environment from their harmful effects. They consequently require higher levels of control in the workplace and down the supply chain. By replacing them with safer alternative chemicals or techniques, you save the time and effort involved in managing the risks related to their use.
Doing the right thing
Many companies see substitution as simply doing the right thing. Reducing the potential risk for your employees working with the substance, for consumers using your products and the environmental impact of your activities is a good thing to do. You are playing your part in making Europe a healthier place for all of us and for future generations.
Need more time?
Finding alternatives and testing them can take a long time. If your substance is included in the REACH Authorisation List, you are not allowed to use it after its sunset date. If you don't have an alternative by then, you need to apply for authorisation to use your substance.
For further information, please see REACH Authorisation