A ‘different mindset’ and ‘smarter toolbox’ is needed for chemical safety and sustainability
The focus on ‘safer’ products has been sharpening in the European Union since it introduced its ground-breaking chemicals regulation in 2006, according to Sue Bullock who heads up the chemical compliance, stewardship and sustainability team at TSG. And she believes that ‘the pace of change is set to quicken’.
Rising standards for safety and sustainability
Indeed, since the EU published the Green Deal in 2019, focus has turned to the systemic change that is needed to promote sustainable food systems. The industrial use of chemicals has come under increasing scrutiny in Europe, where the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability proclaimed its ambition to combat toxic chemicals and pollution that is detrimental to human health and ecosystems in 2020. A year later, the European Commission initiated a process to update EU laws governing chemicals in food contact materials (FCM). According to CHEM Trust, a charity based out of the UK and Germany, this review is long overdue – the EU’s FCM laws are ‘outdated and ineffective in protecting people and the environment’.
Companies already rely on growing teams of experts to make sure their products can be used safely and in accordance with legislation, whether they manufacture and sell feedstocks, pesticides or consumer goods. However, Bullock believes a ‘different mindset’ and ‘smarter toolbox’ are needed to successfully address the ambitious requirements for product safety and sustainability expected under the EU Green Deal.
“When people think about sustainability, carbon reduction is often the first thing that comes to mind, but product composition is at the crux of this issue,” explained Bullock. “Choices about the chemicals and materials used in products determine their impact on health and the environment, their performance and, ultimately, their marketability. Options need to be thoroughly assessed, and decisions – including uncertainties and tensions – must be explained effectively and credibly.”