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S.I.N. List Proposal For The Replacement of 267 Chemicals in The EU


On 17 September 2008, the International Chemicals Secretariat (ChemSec) published, in cooperation with other leading NGOs, a "Substitute It Now" (S.I.N.) list of 267 chemicals comprising substances which it believes should, under REACH (the EU's Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals), be classified as "substances of very high concern" (SVHCs), and for which companies should be searching for alternatives.

The S.I.N. list of chemicals is the first attempt at providing a comprehensive list of SVHCs - substances that businesses may be forced to replace with other less harmful substances. As such, it is significantly more extensive than the list of 16 hazardous chemicals that is currently being analyzed by EU regulatory authorities - a process which will produce the first ever "candidate list" of SVHC chemicals that would have to be authorized before their marketing or use in the EU (for more details, see our previous client alert: Upcoming 14 August deadline for hazardous chemicals in the EU). This first list is expected to be approved on 22 October by the EU authorities.

Whilst the EU's chemical agency (ECHA) is unlikely to have the resources to increase the amount of chemicals currently being analyzed, the publication of the S.I.N. list by ChemSec does provide chemical manufacturers with an indication of the possible future direction of EU policy towards greater regulation of chemicals. In particular, because it is anticipated that the candidate list will be updated annually.

The S.I.N. list is also an important indicator for downstream users, such as: formulators of preparations (e.g. paints, detergents, glues, rubbers, or plastics); users of chemicals (e.g. oils, antifoams, lubricants) in industrial processes; professional users (e.g. cleaners and car repair shops); or producers of finished articles (e.g. cars, toys, computers, or electronic components). Downstream users often have to play a delicate balancing act between maintaining positive relationships with chemical manufacturers and satisfying the changing expectations of the marketplace, whilst trying to comply with increasing regulation. If a substance is classified as an SVHC, it may only be used in a downstream user's product if it has been authorized; in any event, such businesses would probably consider using a substitute substance due to increasing public pressure to produce substances which are SVHC-free.

In order to avoid the potential harmful business impact of a substance they produce or use being on the candidate list, companies (manufacturers, downstream users, or importers) are encouraged to make appropriate representations to the EU regulatory authorities.

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