The Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability proposes the development of a horizontal essential use concept to apply across chemicals legislation. The Chemicals Strategy commits to “define criteria for essential uses to ensure that the most harmful chemicals are only allowed if their use is 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”.
On the essential use concept, ISOPA is asking for clarification on the criteria which would be used for a substance or a product to be considered essential to society. Whereas this concept is presented as promoting faster decision making, the high number of derogation requests deriving form that could prove counter-productive and slow the decision process.
There is a high risk that the concept of “essential use”, simple at first sight, would turn the current system upside down and result in the chemicals regulation being driven by judgement instead of scientific evidence.
It is close to impossible to judge which uses are essential for society. It will lead to prolonged discussions consuming time and resources of national authorities and agencies. If you combine the concept with other proposed measures such as the generic approach to risk management, a screening approach will have to be applied to regulatory measures covering hundreds of uses where for each use a decision on essentiality has to be made.
The application of this concept would lead to a barrage of new derogation requests instead of getting to faster decision making.