Article 24 January 2018

EU Chemicals regulatory news, 24 January 2018

Food Contact Materials – Comments to European Commission's Consultation

Various trade groups have called on the European Commission to fully harmonise the rules on food contact materials ("FCM"). With respect to materials not harmonised at EU level, the Member States have remained free to adopt national rules. According to several respondents to the European Commission's consultation on the evaluation of FCMs, harmonised rules would create a single European market for all FCMs and contribute to ensuring high safety standards across the EU.

In the same context, the Center for International Environmental Law has called on the European Commission to use all available information sources, including substances identified as being of very high concern and substances placed on the Candidate List pursuant to the REACH Regulation, and to establish a "by-default ban" on the presence of all hazardous substances in FCM.

First opinions adopted by ECHA's Biocidal Products Committee on EU product authorisation

The European Chemicals Agency's Biocidal Products Committee (BPC) has adopted first opinions endorsing applications for EU-wide authorisation of biocidal products. At its meeting in December 2017, the BPC supported applications for two biocidal product families containing iodine/PVP-iodine for use in veterinary hygiene.

The BPC also adopted opinions on six applications for the approval of active substances for use in disinfectants, preservatives and pest control. Of the six substances, the BPC supported the approval of five active substances. The BPC's opinions will be forwarded to the European Commission and serve as a basis for the latter decision on the applications.

Finland: Hazardous substances to be increasingly considered in the context of public tenders

As part of a research conducted at Turku University of Applied Sciences, undertaken in collaboration with the City of Turku, methods and processes are sought for hazardous chemicals to be considered in the context of public tenders. Municipalities and other public bodies subject to public procurement rules are increasingly incorporating requirements on environmental effects in calls for tenders. However, hazardous chemicals have not, thus far, been considered in any greater extent this context. At the same time, the Finnish Chemicals Safety Agency, Tukes, has estimated that only in Finland some 30,000 hazardous products exists, containing over 5,000 substances classified as hazardous.

More than 90 municipalities commented on a consultation on how hazardous substances are considered in the context of public procurement. In one third of the respondent municipalities, discussions on the reduction of use of hazardous substances have taken place. Similarly, in one third of the respondent municipalities the issue has not been addressed. Some municipalities have already imposed conditions on limiting the use of hazardous substances, for instance, in cleaning agents.

Based on the municipalities' comments, guidance on the issue is needed as the topic of hazardous substances is considered complex and technical. This reflects the fact that the number of substances is significant and persons responsible for public procurement often lack technical (chemistry) background.

The European Commission has adopted its Circular Economy Package

The European Commission has published, on 16 January 2018, its Circular Economy Package. The measures implement the European Commission's Circular Economy Action Plan, adopted in 2015. A key focus of the Package relates to plastics, and foresees the adoption of first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics. While environmental protection from plastic pollution is one key consideration, there is also a strong business case for moving towards a circular economy in plastics. According to the new strategy and plan, all plastic packaging in the EU market will be recyclable by 2030 while at the same time the consumption of single-use plastics is sought to be reduced and the intentional use of microplastics is to be restricted altogether.

Other measures in the Package include a Communication on the interface between chemicals, product and waste legislation, identifying some key legal and technical challenges to increased recycle of products and waste, as well as a Report on Critical Raw Materials, which highlights the need and potential to recycle 27 critical materials.

Seven new substances added to the Candidate List

On 18 January 2018, ECHA added seven new Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) to the Candidate List and updated the entry for bisphenol A (BPA) to take account of the substance's endocrine disrupting properties and environmental effects. The substances included on the Candidate List include cadmium nitrate, cadmium hydroxide and cadmium carbonate, all of which have carcinogenic, mutagenic and specific target organ toxicity (after repeat exposure).

The substances are used, inter alia, in the manufacture of glass and porcelain and ceramic products (cadmium nitrate), manufacture of electronic, electrical and optical equipment (cadmium hydroxide) and as a pH regulator and in water treatment products (cadmium carbonate).

Following the latest entry, the Candidate List contains 181 substances.

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