Last week, the trade association Cosmetics Europe participated in the European Commission’s (EC) first High-Level Roundtable on the implementation of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS) alongside representatives from the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (A.I.S.E.); the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic); Covestro; Solvay; Henkel; Eurometaux; and SMEunited.
Following the meeting – details of which can be found here – the above High-Level Roundtable members issued a joint statement on what they believed was necessary to successfully implement the EC’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability.
‘Effective and coherent’ implementation needed – industry ready to ‘play its role’
“Effective and coherent implementation of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability will lay important foundations for achieving the goals of the European Green Deal, which we, the undersigned, fully support,” the statement said.
“…Working together with policymakers, civil society and academia, we must ensure that implementation of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability helps, not hinders, successful delivery of Europe’s Green Deal and strategic autonomy. The industry is ready to play its role in supporting this work, aiding the transition towards a climate-neutral and circular economy.”
The signatories said they were committed to playing their part in building upon what was already “the most advanced chemical safety legislation in the world” and would continue efforts to “further develop and invest in safe and sustainable substances”.
EU border enforcement and safe-and-sustainable-by-design innovation
As part of making this transition smooth, they said that, firstly, enforcement of existing chemicals legislation at the EU border via a toolkit would “make an enormous difference to public health and environment”. “Enforcement would also reassure those who comply with legislation and invest in sustainable chemistry that their competitiveness will remain safeguarded,” they said.
Secondly, prioritising mechanisms that accelerated ‘safe-and-sustainable-by-design’ innovation would be “another important driver” for the success of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability.
“Defining what constitutes ‘safe and sustainable’ must come first, while sustainability must be achieved without compromise on safety. Introducing clear market incentives will always drive growth of industrial change faster than by introducing wider restrictions and bans,” they said.
“…We all share the same goals as the Commission for a system that ensures there is no harm to people or the environment and supports the industry’s investments into more innovative solutions manufactured on European soil.”
‘Diversity of companies’ must be considered during transition
The signatories also said the “central role” yet “delicate situation” of SMEs and how they participated in the implementation the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability would also need to be “addressed with extraordinary care”.
It was important too that “specificities of each value chain in this process” were looked at carefully, they said.
In a separate note on its own website, Cosmetics Europe said: “We believe the implementation of the CSS needs to consider the specificities of each industry sector, the value chain, the diversity of companies and the interconnectivities of the CSS with vertical legislations.”
This sentiment had already been outlined by the association in October 2020 when the CSS was first unveiled. Cosmetics Europe said it would be important any future policy decisions were made based on evidence and science that assessed the impact for consumers, the environment, industry and its competitiveness in a proportionate manner.
A global game-changer? EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability wider impact
Back in February this year, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) said if the EC’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability was built out into something meaningful an “properly implemented” over the coming years, it had the potential to be a “game-changer” and set an example to the world.