Thousands of the most notorious chemicals will be rapidly banned in Europe, the European Commission announced last week, as part of the zero-pollution goal in the European Union’s (EU) Green Deal. The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) welcomed the move.
If implemented, the action will be the largest-ever regulatory removal of authorized chemicals anywhere and covers chemicals that environmental, consumer and health groups have fought against for decades.
The plan announced today, called the Restrictions Roadmap, is a political commitment to use existing laws to ban all flame retardants, chemicals that are frequently linked to cancer, and all bisphenols, widely used in plastics but which disrupt human hormones.
It will also ban all forms of PVC, the least recyclable plastic that contains large amounts of toxic additives and restrict all PFAS “forever chemicals,” plus around 2,000 harmful chemicals found in baby diapers, pacifiers and childcare products.
European officials are unhappy that some 12,000 chemicals known to cause cancer and infertility, reduce vaccine effectiveness and generate other health impacts are still widely found in products, including sensitive categories like baby nappies and pacifiers.
Officials consider the roadmap a rapid first step in an EU chemical strategy, with more fundamental changes coming later, notably starting in late 2022. Industry raised a “storm of protest” over early drafts of the plans and is expected to try to water them down. Chemicals make up the fourth-largest industrial sector in the EU, with firms owned by some of Europe’s richest and most powerful men.