BRUSSELS – Industry lobbyists, including representatives from the textile industry, are trying to kill a tool intended to allow citizens to trace harmful chemicals in products according to new claims. Euratex (the European Apparel and Textile Confederation) is among a dozen trade groups to sign a position paper urging the European Chemicals Agency to shelve plans to create a database of the dangerous chemicals, known as ‘substances of very high concern‘. The database is obligatory under Article 9 of the Waste Framework Directive. The way in which industry deals with potentially toxic chemicals in recycled products is an issue authorities and legislators have been grappling with for several years.
The trade groups have now set out a position paper which claims the problem of managing chemicals in waste should be dealt with by the recycling and waste industry instead. “The signatory industries strongly believe that the database will not achieve its intended objectives to support the Circular Economy,” says the paper. “In addition, the ECHA proposal will not be workable for industry nor enforceable by authorities.”
However, several environmental NGOs have now hit back at the paper, calling on the chemicals agency to “stick to its guns.” Greenpeace, the Plastic Soup Foundation and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) are among 41 pressure groups to sign a letter that claims the ECHA database is “crucial to the circular economy and to protection of human health and the environment”. The letter claims the database is a legal requirement and would mostly contain information that industry has already been obliged to hold for over a decade.
Says the letter: “We call on the ECHA to remain determined in setting a meaningful and useful database, containing the information needed to achieve the objectives set by the EU legislators and to achieve a non-toxic circular economy.
“We also call on European industries to become champions of transparency and world-wide leaders, and to seize this opportunity to reinforce trust with their global supply chains and customers. The industries that officially opposed the database represent EU article manufacturers, assemblers, importers and distributors. Their products include consumer products such as … textiles, furniture, etc. Approaches that block transparency and that produce and recycle substances of very high concern into consumer products is no longer acceptable.”