New toxic chemical regulations: is your supply chain impacted?

By March 31, 2021 No Comments

There are new chemical regulations on the block, and your company’s supply chain might be implicated. These rules prohibit both the manufacturing of certain bioaccumulating chemicals as well as the distribution of products that contain these chemicals. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued five final rules regulating the manufacture and distribution of certain persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (“PBT”) chemicals pursuant to the Toxic Substance Control Act (“TSCA”) in January 2021. These rules became effective on February 5, 2021, and impact chemical and end use product manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, and merchants.

EPA is now revisiting the final rules following supply chain pressure. EPA announced a 60-day public comment period beginning March 8, 2021. EPA is seeking additional public comment on the five final rules. Significantly, EPA is exercising enforcement discretion in the form of a 180-day “No Action Assurance” for certain new requirements associated with one of the chemicals, PIP (3:1)—a common flame retardant chemical. Revised regulations or further guidance following the comment period are anticipated.

Under these new rules (and potential forthcoming changes), your company may need to closely review whether one or more of the newly regulated chemicals is present within its supply chain.

Council approves conclusions on the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability

The Council today endorsed a new chemicals strategy setting a long-term vision for the EU chemicals policy. The strategy aims to achieve a toxic-free environment with a higher level of protection of human health and the environment, while strengthening the competitiveness of the EU’s chemicals industry. In its conclusions, the Council asks the Commission to implement the actions laid down in the strategy, including targeted amendments to streamline EU chemicals legislation, substituting and minimizing substances of concern, and phasing out the most harmful chemicals for non-essential societal uses.

The strategy specifically sets out to ban the most harmful chemicals in consumer products such as cosmetics, toys, detergents, childcare items, furniture, textiles or materials that come in contact with food, unless they are deemed essential for health, safety or the functioning of society, or if no alternative is available. The Council also highlights the importance of limiting exposure to endocrine disruptors (hazardous for the hormone system) and to reducing the harmful effects of chemical mixtures.

The strategy aims to phase-out hazardous chemicals that affect vulnerable groups. Overall, all chemicals should be used more sustainably and safely.

A key novelty in the strategy is the shift of focus onto a “safe and sustainable-by-design” approach. Member states support this life-cycle approach that takes into account the toxicity of chemicals at all stages of their existence – from manufacture to use, recycling and disposal. The purpose is to prevent hazardous chemicals from entering products already at the design phase. This approach also aims to boost innovation and sustainability in the chemicals sector.

The Council endorses the EU taking a leading role at the global stage, by promoting its rules on chemicals as the golden standard, as well as ensuring that the EU has secured access to chemicals that are critical for health and the functioning of society.

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