As they develop worldwide, chemical regulations increase the pressure on companies to ensure compliance and to grant profitability
When evaluating chemicals, regulators usually place the focus on ensuring protection of human health and the environment. While it is unquestionable that those must be the main goals of any legislative approach, sometimes the economic and societal benefits of the continued use of those chemicals are underestimated. The use of precautionary positions in cases that are not “black or white” from a risk perspective often leads to a lack of rigorous consideration of the indirect impacts from regulatory decisions on chemicals. These may include profit drops, loss of employment or relocation of business. But they may even create unintended negative consequences for the protection of people and the environment, because the specific case is analysed focusing on a narrow-sighted vision of the problem at hand, ignoring its potential broader impacts. Furthermore, focusing exclusively on one single substance during the assessment of chemicals may allow for similar chemicals to “escape the radar” of the regulators, which may generate situations of regrettable substitution. Since companies are usually better informed than regulators on potential alternatives with similar hazardous properties, their voice needs to be heard in order to avoid such situations.
Furthermore, the lack of adequate balance in the “hazard vs risk” debate may lead to disproportionate decisions by regulators. For certain chemicals with intrinsic hazardous properties, technological developments have managed to bring risks to very low levels. In those cases, ensuring adequate control of the use of chemicals should be the top priority instead of imposing straight bans, particularly when the use of the substance provides substantial benefits to society. The use of the risk management hierarchy principles (substitute if possible, minimise the use and ensure adequate control of remaining risks) should be the basis for regulatory actions, combined with effective enforcement and clear industry commitments.
In response to this conflict, companies often strive to adequately explain their positions to institutional decision-makers. This typically requires joint efforts via interest groups such as consortia or industry associations, which aim at developing clear messages to highlight the need to adequately balance all the available information, and to use a broad perspective to evaluate the impacts of any regulatory decision.
We offer the following services to support you in the representation of your interests:
- Identification of the most efficient and proportionate regulatory path for chemical substances, based on the development of a rigorous Regulatory Management Option Analysis (RMOA)
- Engagement with the supply chain of chemicals to identify critical information related to their uses, substitution options and added value for society
- Coordination of replies to Public Consultations or Calls for Evidence for different regulatory processes (CLH, SVHC listing, restriction proposals)
- Development of positions for interest groups, based on solid scientific evidence and consolidated socio-economic data
- Organisation of the technical content of advocacy campaigns