Defining Europe’s “essential” chemicals for society | CEFIC


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One of the actions announced by the European Commission in its new Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability published in 2020, is to phase out the most harmful chemicals for non-essential societal use, in particular in consumer products. Essential societal use of chemicals is described in the strategy as  “a use necessary for health, safety or is critical for the functioning of society and if there are no alternatives that are acceptable from the standpoint of environment and health.” 

But how to translate this political objective into legislation and roll it out in practice is yet to be defined.  

The EU chemical industry fully supports the regulatory framework that maintains a high level of protection for people and environment, and continues investing into safer and more sustainable European-produced substances.  

This is why we are actively engaging in a discussion about how the concept of essential use  could be incorporated into existing EU chemicals legislation.  

Many question marks remain on use of this concept 

Essential use is a relatively novel concept and has a limited basis in international and European law.  Recent stakeholder discussions have showed that many practical  questions still remain unanswered. One cannot roll out the concept without a broad  debate including all corners of society.  


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