– People should not be exposed to hazardous substances in articles. Therefore stricter rules are required, says Nina Cromnier, Director-General of the Swedish Chemicals Agency, which now presents a strategy for reducing risks with chemicals in articles.
We use more articles and produce more chemicals than ever before. That is why the Swedish Chemicals Agency has taken on a broad perspective on the area of articles. The strategy presents opportunities and challenges but also feasible ways to go on with this work. In addition to legal requirements, the strategy also gives proposals that may lead to more companies raising the ambition in their work with chemicals. This includes inspiring customers to make greater demands on articles and to support small and medium-sized enterprises in their efforts to replace hazardous substances in articles.
Global flow of articles
- Limiting the risks is nothing Sweden by itself is capable of managing. Flows of articles are global, and volumes are increasing all the time. Therefore, the strategy gives examples of what needs to be done by industry and authorities but also at the political level in Sweden, the EU and globally, says Petra Ekblom with the Swedish Chemicals Agency.
It is the opinion of the Swedish Chemicals Agency that provisions applicable to chemical products also should apply to articles that contain hazardous substances:
- Companies should substitute hazardous substances- the most hazardous substances must not be included in new articles.
During the autumn, the Swedish Chemicals Agency will be analysing how EU legislation can be developed to accelerate the phasing out of particularly hazardous substances in consumer products.
- Information about the contents of articles must always be available all the way from producer to customer and waste disposal.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency proposes tougher requirements on information to be introduced in the EU. Sweden is also actively participating in a UN project on global information systems since a large proportion of production takes place outside the EU.
- Knowledge should be available about chemical risks and how these can be handled.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency proposes special funds allocated to research on risks from chemicals in products. Information and seminars targeted at particular groups are to increase awareness among those concerned.
- Effective control of non-compliant companies.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency suggests increased cooperation between regulators in Europe where all countries should participate.
One part of the action plan for a non-toxic everyday environment
The strategy on articles is one part of the action plan for a non-toxic everyday environment which the Swedish Chemicals Agency produced earlier this year. Identified priority groups of articles are toys and other articles for children, clothes, shoes, building products, furnishings and electronics.
- These are everyday items that many people come in contact with, and we know that they may contain harmful substances. Everyone, including particularly vulnerable groups like children and young people are exposed to them all the time because the articles are in our homes, in schools and workplaces. They also cause large amounts of waste which increases the risk of hazardous substances being dispersed to the environment, says Petra Ekblom.
Although the strategy on articles is primarily aimed at policy makers and authorities, other sectors may also find it interesting.
Green driving forces
- We have already established industry dialogues and know that there are "green" driving forces in the production and supply chains. Such cooperation will increase both the state of knowledge and the pace of future work, says Nina Cromnier.