New EU chemicals strategy for sustainability crucial for protection of people and environment

On 14 October, the EU released its keenly-awaited Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS). The strategy will play an important role in the European Green Deal – a set of policy initiatives by the European Commission with the overarching aim of making the EU’s economy sustainable. We welcome this new EU Strategy. Rapid implementation of this strategy is crucial for better protection of people and the environment against harmful substances.

Survey after survey shows that the public is clearly and rightly concerned about harmful chemicals polluting our living environment. The EU has now clearly listened to this. There are 100,000 chemicals on the market in Europe, of which about 70 percent are dangerous. Daily exposure to a mixture of harmful substances is associated with the development and increase of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and infertility, as well as with the loss of insect, bird and mammal populations; threats now recognized by the Commission. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable. Most children have already been exposed to a mixture of harmful substances in the womb before birth. Announced measures to improve the categorization and strict regulation of chemicals of concern, such as endocrine disruptors and PFAS, are therefore particularly urgent.

The new EU chemicals strategy is a unique opportunity to rethink the European approach to chemicals management. This is necessary because the production volume of chemicals worldwide will double by 2030 and, as a result of unsafe recycling, banned substances will appear in new products. After all, hazardous waste and chemical substances are traded worldwide, which costs human lives and damages the ecosystem. In this context, consistent application of the polluter pays principle would be necessary. NGOs fear that large amounts of public money will go to the industry to switch to safer products, while the use of harmful substances remains untaxed and no extra money will be released to tackle our polluted living environment.

The public pays billions of euros in health care costs, while the chemical industry continues to make huge profits. We therefore hope that the chemical industry will embrace this strategy as progress and take responsibility and not continue to resist.

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Press Release HEAL