ECHA has assessed the health and environmental risks posed by intentionally added microplastics and has concluded that an EU-wide restriction would be justified. If adopted, the restriction could result in a reduction in emissions of microplastics of about 400 thousand tonnes over 20 years.
The definition of microplastic is wide, covering small, typically microscopic (less than 5mm), synthetic polymer particles that resist (bio)degradation. The scope covers a wide range of uses in consumer and professional products in multiple sectors, including cosmetic products, detergents and maintenance products, paints and coatings, construction materials and medicinal products, as well as various products used in agriculture and horticulture and in the oil and gas sectors.
ECHA has added six new substances to the Candidate List. All have properties that are either carcinogenic, toxic to reproduction, persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic (PBT), endocrine disrupting, or are very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB). The Candidate List of substances of very high concern (SVHCs)forauthorisation now lists 197 substances.
The six new substances are:
• Pyrene, Phenanthrene and Fluoranthene are PAHs restricted in Germany under the GS mark, but not currently restricted under REACH ANNEX XVII with other PAHs;
• Benzo[k]fluoranthene is a PAH restricted under both the GS mark in Germany and REACH ANNEX XVII with other PAHs;
In order to help consumers make informed choices for safer products while increasing pressure to substitute substances of concern, ECHA is going to establish a new database on the presence of hazardous chemicals in articles by the end of 2019 for waste treatment operators and consumers. The database will comprise information submitted by companies producing, importing or selling articles that contain Candidate List substances. Companies need to submit this information by the end of 2020. The work is based on the revised waste framework directive that entered into force in July 2018. It is part of the EU’s waste legislation package, contributing to the EU's circular economy policy.
ECHA has added eight new SVHCs to the Candidate List following the SVHC identification process with the involvement of the Member State Committee (MSC). Two further substances, TMA and DCHP, have also been added to the list, having been identified as SVHCs by the European Commission due to their respiratory sensitising properties and toxic for reproduction and endocrine-disrupting properties, respectively. The Commission’s decision follows the referral of the MSC opinions on these SVHC proposals in 2016.
Results of a market survey conducted by ECHA shows the volume of bisphenol S (BPS) used as developer in thermal paper manufactured in the EU doubled between 2016 and 2017. The market share of BPS-based thermal papers is expected to continue to increase in the coming years, and in particular after 2 January 2020, when BPA can no longer be used in thermal paper in the EU.
In an EU/EEA-wide project of ECHA’s Enforcement Forum, inspectors found hundreds of consumer products with illegal amounts of restricted chemicals. Every fifth toy inspected contained high levels of restricted phthalates.
ECHA has added seven new substances of very high concern (SVHC) to the Candidate List and updated the entry for bisphenol A (BPA) following the SVHC identification process with the involvement of the Member State Committee (MSC). New substances include Chrysene, Benz[a]anthracene, Cadmium nitrate, Cadmium hydroxide, Cadmium carbonate, etc. The BPA entry was updated to reflect an additional reason for inclusion due to its endocrine disrupting properties causing adverse effects to the environment.
EU experts have agreed to designate bisphenol A (BPA) as a human endocrine disruptor on top of its current repro-toxic classification, paving the way for an EU phase-out of the chemical. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced that its member state committee voted unanimously to classify the compound, used in polycarbonate plastics, inks and resins, a substance of very high concern (SVHC) under the EU REACH Regulation due to its endocrine-disrupting properties.
Over the last decade, an unprecedented amount of information about chemical hazards and exposure has been collected and stored in the databases of Echa. Echa has been taking research on the substances could be confidently categorised as high priority substances with likely hazards and likely exposure during use. But there are still 3,000 substances in what the agency describes as a ‘grey zone’ where it has insufficient information to make a determination about the risks they pose.
China is cutting the number of products whose manufacturing requires official licensing. The 19 categories include water pipes and rechargeable batteries. The manufacturing licenses required for electric blankets and helmets for motorists are giving way to China Compulsory Certification. It is pivotal to the upgrading of the real economy and pose higher requirements to enterprises to ensure the quality of products.
The OECD has launched version four of its Qsar Toolbox, with some features designed specifically for companies looking to register substances under REACH ahead of the 2018 deadline. Echa head Geert Dancet used the agency's stakeholders day to remind companies planning to register substances under next year's deadline that they must pre-register their substances by 31 May this year.
Another seven toxic substances may be added to the REACH chemicals regime authorisation list under plans drawn up by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Consultation on the list, which heralds a significant expansion of annex XIV to REACH, began on 2 March. These seven substances are karanal, 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, four related phenolic benzotriazoles (UV-328, UV-327, UV-350 and UV-320) and a family of phthalic acid esters which could be used in adhesives. ECHA is seeking comment on the substances’ uses, proposed transitional arrangements, possible exemptions from authorisation and information on supply chains until 2 June. A final decision on the proposals will be taken by the European Commission.
The Member State Committee (MSC) unanimously agreed on the identification of four substances of very high concern (SVHCs): bisphenol A, PFDA, PTAP and 4-HPbl. ECHA will include these substances in the Candidate List in January 2017.
The last REACH registration deadline will be on 31 May 2018. This deadline concerns companies that manufacture or import chemical substances in low volumes, between 1-100 tonnes per year. Practical advice on the different steps companies need to take to complete their registration is available on ECHA's website. ECHA has completed the toolkit to support companies for the 2018 registration deadline. All companies are encouraged to follow the step-by-step advice and speed up their preparations.
A report has claimed that the Peruvian government is ignoring the real drivers of deforestation and failing to safeguard the rights of indigenous people who rely on, and are best-placed to protect, the country’s forests. The report, Revealing the Hidden: Indigenous perspectives on deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon, was issued by Peru’s indigenous peoples’ organisation (AIDESEP), and international human rights NGO Forest Peoples Programme (FPP). Conflicting with previous reports that suggest agriculture is mostly to blame (see above), this report suggests the invisible drivers of deforestation have a much more significant impact. These include infrastructure projects, such as the Transoceanic highway, oil, gas and mining projects, palm oil plantations, illegal logging operations, and mega-dam projects. According to the report, roughly 75% of deforestation in Peru occurs within 20km of a road. The report goes on to suggest practical steps to address this deforestation and violation of indigenous peoples’ rights, including: resolving territorial demands; providing legal, financial and technical support; close legal loopholes; and implement robust and independent planning mechanisms to ensure economic interests do not over-ride all other considerations.
MPs and policymakers from 33 of the world’s major economies gathered at the first GLOBE Climate Legislation Summit in London. The Summit concluded with a pledge which recognises that forest loss contributes approximately 17 per cent of GHG emissions each year and commits the legislators to promote and advance the REDD+ mechanism in their own countries. REDD+ offers forest nations access to new finance in return for the development of effective and independently assessed forest protection schemes.